By: Mike Feld
The Lions wide out told Stoney, Bill and Sara during their weekly chat that he couldn’t watch the Colts’ final drive that led to the eventual game-winning touchdown over Detroit on Sunday. Johnson turned his back on the action – literally – instead choosing to watch center Dominic Raiola’s facial expressions.
“I was standing in front of Dom, but I’m like, ‘I’m not going to watch; I’m going to just read your reaction,” Johnson said. “I watched the first couple of plays, but when they got across the 50, I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t watch. I’ve been a part of too many of these before.’”
Many fans shared mutual feelings with Megatron concerning the final minutes, but they also had something else in common with Johnson: a curiosity in the play calling in the final drive.
A lot of people wondering if the Lions should have put the ball in the air on the now infamous third-and-five play that resulted in just one yard and a punt.
Johnson understood why fans were puzzled, but also emphasized the importance of trusting head coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
“In that situation, a lot of times during the game when you’ve got third-and-five, your antennas definitely go up,” Johnson said. “It’s a passing situation. In the game, you do [have] to understand what the coach is trying to do, and I understand what he’s trying to do there. It seems to be a lot of ideas of what should’ve happened there. But hey, we’re going to stick and roll with what coach does.”
Sticking by coach’s decisions is something Johnson and most of the locker room is used to. However, not everyone is on board with that mindset.
Enter – or exit – Titus Young.
Johnson, who had shown support for his exiled teammate in recent weeks, struggled to defend Young after his latest slip-up. When Young intentionally lined up on the wrong side of the field in a home loss to Green Bay three weeks ago, Johnson was not privy to what was happening.
When he found out, he couldn’t help but feel frustrated.
“I’m on the other side of the field just like, ‘What the hell is going on over there? We can’t even get lined up,’” Johnson said. “When you find out later, it’s really that you’re doing an injustice to the team. We’re all in this thing to get wins. It’s going to take every one of the 11 guys to do their job to get it. When somebody’s not doing their job right intentionally, it kind of ticks you off.”
No. 81 won’t rule out a warm welcome if Young returns next season, but he knows things will have to change.
“He needs some help,” Johnson said. “He needs to get through what he’s going through right now. I’m definitely not going to cast him off. If he can really just sit back and watch the rest of the season, see our chemistry out there … if he wants to be a part of that, he can come back. If you’re going to continue to be a disturbance in any form, shape or way, you need to stay home.”
While Young might be home this week watching football from a warm room, the Lions will not have the same luxury. They’ll be tasked with traveling to snowy Green Bay for a night date at Lambeau Field, a place they haven’t won at since 1991.
Johnson isn’t worried about ending the streak; he just wants to win. He’s also not worried about the temperature – as long as he’s on the field.
“It’s not too bad, as long as you’re on the field,” Johnson said. “Once you come on that sideline and you’re just standing there, like in practice when you’re standing in that cold … it’s bad business.”