How Bowe Can Help Johnson

Even after watching limited doses of Dwayne Bowe's LSU games from last season, it's evident he's a ferocious blocker. I've seen him effortlessly send cornerbacks flying, and he has no problem cutting a defensive end on the backside of a play. At times, he will take out two defenders on a single play.

Maybe some fans would have preferred to see the Chiefs draft a faster wide receiver to stretch the field – as I pointed out in Wednesday's column, Tennessee's Robert Meachem was on the board when the Chiefs picked Bowe in the first round. So was Jason Hill (4.32 speed) and Bowe's LSU teammate, Craig Davis.

Would these receivers have taken some pressure off Larry Johnson? Maybe. But none of them brings the sheer force of Bowe's blocking abilities to the field.

There were times last season when Johnson was maybe one block away from busting a long run. With Bowe on the field instead of the diminutive Samie Parker, perhaps we'll see more of those in 2007.

Here are five plays from 2006 that might have gone a little differently had Bowe been around to flatten defenders.

Sept. 9, 2006 – Chiefs vs Bengals


This is a second-and-eight play in the first quarter, with the game locked in a scoreless tie. The Chiefs line up with two tight ends and attempt to pull Will Shields and Casey Wiegmann to the right side of the field, leading Johnson, who's patience results in a nine-yard gain.

Unfortunately, due to a weak block by wide receiver Eddie Kennison, Johnson is forced to cut back from the sideline. That allows Bengals' linebacker Rashad Jeanty to catch LJ from behind and tackle him. Had Kennison sealed his man (cornerback Jonathan Jospeh) to the inside, Johnson could have turned the corner and perhaps scored from 25 yards out.

Oct. 8, 2006 – Chiefs at Cardinals


This one is too obvious. On first-and-10 with a little over two minutes left in the game, the Chiefs are tied at 20 with the Cardinals. Johnson takes a short screen pass and turns it into a 78-yard gain. He's stopped only because of a gruesome facemask tackle by Arizona cornerback Antrel Rolle.

If Samie Parker had delivered a more aggressive block on Rolle (who swats the receiver out of his way like a fly), Johnson easily scores, the Chiefs go up by a touchdown, and there's no last-second drama on a potential field goal. There's also no risk of Johnson's head being torn off at the neck.

Oct. 22, 2006 – Chiefs vs Chargers


It's first-and-10 with 33 seconds left in the game, and the Chiefs are tied at 27 with San Diego. Johnson takes a short dump pass from Damon Huard in the left flat, makes two guys miss, picks up 16 yards and gets out of bounds. Fantastic play, but it would have been even better had Rod Gardner thrown a block instead of standing around gawking at Johnson.

As Johnson approaches the 30-yard line (after putting the moves on Drayton Florence and Antonio Cromartie), Gardner is squared up almost perfectly for a potential block on safety Clinton Hart. If Gardner just gets in Hart's way for half a second, there's only one defender between Johnson and the end zone. And Samie Parker was lurking around the play, too.

Nov. 5, 2006 – Chiefs at Rams


There's nine minutes left in the game, with the Chiefs ahead by a touchdown. The offense lines up in an offset I-formation and runs a counter play to the left side of the field, with Will Shields and Kris Wilson leading the way for Johnson, who cuts back and runs through a gaping hole created by (believe it or not) Jordan Black and Chris Bober.

Because the Rams are playing a defense with only one safety back, as Johnson zips through the hole, all he has to do is outrun OJ Atogwe's angle of pursuit and he'll score a touchdown – if the weakside wide receiver throws a decent block. Unfortunately, Fakhir Brown manages to push Samie Parker into LJ's path, forcing him to make a 45-degree cut toward the sideline, ending any chance of a long run. If Parker had flattened Brown, Johnson would have turned a 16-yard gain into at least 30 yards and a potential 44-yard touchdown gallop.

Nov 23, 2006 – Chiefs vs Broncos


With just under 11 minutes left in the game, the Chiefs line up in a singleback formation with three wide receivers. Johnson makes a spectacular move on Denver linebacker DJ Williams at the line of scrimmage, freeing him to run down the right sideline. Curome Cox comes blazing up in run support and dives at LJ's heels, only to come up with a mouthful of grass.

It is at this point that Johnson finds himself staring at Eddie Kennison's backside. Cornerback Champ Bailey has done a wonderful job of fending off Kennison's potential block, and shoves the wide receiver directly into LJ's path. This allows the backside pursuit of safety John Lynch and linebacker Ian Gold to catch up to the play. Bailey makes an ankle tackle on Johnson after a nine-yard gain

Had Kennison sealed off Bailey effectively, it was literally a footrace between Johnson and Lynch/Gold for the endzone. A better block, and LJ might score a 64-yard touchdown (Darrent Williams might have stopped him by running full-out, all the way from the other side of the field).

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Will Dwayne Bowe make all these blocks in 2007? Highly unlikely. He probably won't even be in the same position that Parker, Kennison and Gardner were in the plays described above, at least not in every scenario. But even one or two of Bowe's crushing blocks per game could make a huge difference for Larry Johnson.

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