Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson described the Patriots offense as "legit" in a conference call on Wednesday, and says the Bills will need to prevail in a "shootout" if they're to come away with a victory Sunday.

Johnson seems to understand the situation his 4-10 Bills are in. But in winning four of its last six games, Buffalo is a team that's been playing much better than it was when it began the season with an 0-8 record.

This season has been a complete learning experience for the Bills, and more specifically, for Johnson.

The last time he played against the Patriots, Johnson had 3 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's 38-30 Week 3 loss at Gillettte. The most memorable part of that 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was Johnson's 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after the score, which he drew for colorfully blasting off an imaginary musket, mocking New England's mascots.

The last time you've probably seen Johnson in the national spotlight was in Week 12, when he dropped a potential game-winning 40-yard pass in the end zone while wide open in the opening minutes of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Three plays later, Buffalo punted, and the Steelers scored a game-winning field goal on the drive.

Johnson's postgame press conference showed an ever-so-emotional third-year receiver, desperate to learn from his mistakes. He reiterated that emotion on Wednesday.

"Besides football, I don't have no other job," said Johnson. "I have everything in this thing, this football thing. So when I don't perform to how I feel I should be out there, I take it hard. Because this is how I eat. This is really my life. This is my family's life too. So I feel like I have to make all those plays."

Johnson has 943 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions this season. He considers his breakout season a product of opportunity.

"I haven't done anything over the top, or did anything too different," said Johnson. "It was just opportunity. And when guys that I learned a lot from, which is Terrell Owens and Josh Reed, when they ended up leaving, or when the coaches didn't bring them back, it just opened up a spot for me."

And he's thrived on it. Sure, he -- and his teammates -- made some mistakes along the way. But he believes Buffalo should now start to be taken seriously.

"We've went from wanting to go out there, showing that we can play with a team, to going out there and wanting to show that we will win against teams like New England," said Johnson. "That's the difference in our mentality."

Entering Sunday's rematch with the Patriots, Johnson believes there's not much different with New England's defense from the last time they met in Week 3. And perhaps, saying that is another mistake he'll have to learn from.

"It's an athletic defense," said Johnson. "They're aggressive, talented, but you know, everybody's like that on Sundays, especially in the NFL. So it's everything that we've seen.

"I can't really say that there's too much of a change," added Johnson. "They're still running the same defenses, so there's not too much of a difference. They're more comfortable in their places, and that's pretty much the only thing that I can say about it."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.