AFC East: Bills' Johnson Had Better Days

Buffalo Bills WR Steve Johnson has had better days than last Sunday vs the Jets. After showing he could score against Darrelle Revis and co. Johnson pulled a boneheaded move by mocking Plaxico Burress in a TD celebration. Funny or not, Johnson's move hurt his team.

Johnson celebration costs him, Bills
Dec. 1, 2011, The Sports Xchange

   Wide receiver Steve Johnson can expect an NFL fine for excessively celebrating a touchdown in Sunday's loss at the New York Jets.

   But coach Chan Gailey is giving him a free pass.

   Gailey said he doesn't plan to fine or bench Johnson, who touched off a firestorm of criticism for mocking Jets receiver Plaxico Burress by gesturing being shot in the leg; Burress spent time in prison for accidentally shooting himself in the leg in a New York nightclub three years ago.

   Johnson made matters worse by acting like an airplane crashing into the ground, which some interpreted as extremely insensitive towards New York, a city that experienced firsthand the horrors of 911. That action earned Johnson a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

   "I don't have to worry about all that. The league handles the discipline part of it," Gailey said when asked if he planned to discipline Johnson personally.

   Gailey said he spoke with Johnson and felt confident the player got the message that over-the-top celebrations are unprofessional and would be addressed harsher by him if something were to happen again. This is Johnson's second time for drawing such a penalty and third time overall for drawing attention to himself with some sort of end-zone celebration.

   "If I benched everybody for every dumb mistake that was made there wouldn't be any coaches or players out there because we've all made dumb mistakes," Gailey said. "I try to address it, make sure everybody understands exactly the impact it has on the team and then do you sit there and say, 'Are we going to punish the team or are we going to punish the person? Who are you going to punish?' That's always the question. These are men. They've got to understand exactly what's at stake and they've got to understand actions reap consequences and consequences affect the team."

   Johnson said he was unaware that falling to the ground in celebration was against NFL rules.

   "I didn't know that," he said. "Somebody had done the same thing and there was no flag so I thought it was OK."

   Johnson's comment was odd because last season he was fined $10,000 by the NFL and received a 15-yard penalty for falling back onto the ground after pretending to shoot a rifle in a loss at New England, mimicking the Patriots' Minutemen.

   The NFL also rules against players gesturing with simulated weapons.

   Gailey said he assumed all of his players knew these rules and he did not review them at any point this season.

   "I was wrong," Gailey said.

   But Johnson, perhaps more than anybody, should have known.

Dareus' speech fails to produce desired result

   --Rookie defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was considered a leader at Alabama. He said before the 2009 national championship game that he was going to be the MVP, and he was. Before the Bills' game against the Jets, he showed his pro teammates that he's not too young to remain silent. According to teammates, he gave an impassioned pregame speech, hoping to snap the Bills out of their three-game losing streak. Unfortunately, it didn't work, plus Dareus had to miss some of the game because he was sick. "I just really feel like the team needs a leader, and I know I'm young and a rookie and whatnot, but I feel like we're at a point now where that really doesn't matter where it's coming from, but it needs to come from somewhere," Dareus said. "My whole point was, we have to get after it."

   --Leodis McKelvin began his NFL career making contributions to the Bills' special teams in 2008, and that's what he's doing now because he has been benched on defense. McKelvin made a good, hard tackle while covering a punt, and he also recovered a muffed punt that led to a Buffalo touchdown. He was also deep on both punt and kickoff returns before suffering a rib injury while recovering the fumble. "I'm not playing on defense, so I have to show my talents someplace else," McKelvin said. "I'm trying to go out there and make plays and be a team player no matter what it is. Whenever they call my name, I'm going to give my all."

   --The offensive line has been a pleasant surprise all season, until the Jets game, as it endured its worst collective day. Right tackle Erik Pears was brutal, as he was charged with a holding penalty and a personal foul, and he had trouble containing ex-Bills draft bust Aaron Maybin on some rushes. Right guard Chad Rinehart was flagged for holding and a false start. Left tackle Chris Hairston had a false start, and center Kraig Urbik had a personal foul that offset a personal foul by Maybin. In addition to all the penalties, the line failed to open many holes in the running game for C.J. Spiller, and Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked a season-high three times.

   --Without Fred Jackson, it's apparent the Bills are going to have a tough time establishing a running game. Spiller gained only 55 yards on 19 carries against a middle-of-the-road Jets run defense, and the Bills finished with only 49 yards on 22 designed running plays by their running backs.
   "We need to get better at that," coach Chan Gailey said. "For the first three quarters, I don't think we had anything."

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