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Stevie amends comments about play calling

Posted Nov 26, 2012


A day after lobbying for Ryan Fitzpatrick to handle more of the play calling on the field in games, Stevie Johnson admitted he misspoke in explaining what he feels would make Buffalo’s offense more successful.

“The intent was more so the audibles,” said Johnson Monday. “I didn’t mean changing play calling duties and all that. I may have said it, but what I meant to say was audible and giving Fitz the ability to audible a little more.”

Bills head coach Chan Gailey did not speak to Johnson directly for an explanation of his postgame comments Sunday after the loss in Indianapolis, but seemed to understand his top receiver’s emotional state after the game.

“(Receivers coach Bob Bicknell) talked to him,” said Gailey. “I didn’t talk to him, but I talked to “Bick” and I know where he’s coming from and Stevie just wants to win. You say a lot of things and he just wants to win. So he’s fine.

“If you don’t know a guy, you might tend to get really upset but if you know a guy you know where his heart is even though he might not have said it exactly right, you know where his heart is. I know Stevie.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who indicated he has a respectable amount of freedom within the Buffalo offense, also helped to explain where Johnson was coming from having spoken with him Monday about his comments.

“The two things about Stevie that I’ll say—one is he’s fiercely loyal. Coming out of that game, there’s a lot of criticism on me when we don’t win, and rightfully so. I think that was probably part of it,” said Fitzpatrick. “That was a way for him to show that he had my back, and that’s something I appreciate.  The other thing is, he’s competitive as can be and you saw that on the interception—fighting and getting the fumble. He doesn’t like to lose, and so he kind of said some stuff that was on his mind. 

“It wasn’t necessarily that I need to be the offensive coordinator.  It was more, sometimes we get into a better flow when I’m able to go out there, especially with him, the way he runs routes, give him some routes at the line and so some of those different things. That’s something we’ve done in the past, and we do it a few times in the last game, I think that’s what was on his mind.”

Johnson, who posted his first 100-yard receiving game of the season Sunday, acknowledged that after the game his emotions were close to the boiling point and largely contributed to the comments he made.

“It was a lot. I thought a little bit, but for the most part I was just frustrated because I know what was at stake playing against Indianapolis, playing against an AFC opponent and feeling like we need to take their spot and then they beat us,” he said. “It’s all frustration. We’re all competitive out here and I wanted that win bad.”

At the same time Johnson believes there’s merit to his suggestion that Fitzpatrick have the ability to change more plays at the line of scrimmage.

“Coach is getting a view from upstairs, which is pretty much, ‘Okay we think they’ll be in this situation so let’s call this play,’” explained Johnson. “Then when we get out there maybe the defense is switching to something else and that’s when I say maybe we should have Fitz audible to something else. Giving Fitz the ability to audible a little more.”

When it comes to audibles in Buffalo’s offense Gailey stated that the amount of play changing capabilities varies from game to game.

“Some weeks we have a lot, some weeks we don’t have very many,” he said. “We have adjustments that guys can make. Sometimes we don’t have adjustments that the quarterback can make. We just try to strike a balance of making sure that we get what we want run run. If there needs to be a change out there, we allow Fitz to change something.”

As far as Fitzpatrick is concerned he’s more than satisfied with the amount of latitude Gailey gives him within the scope of the offense.

“Chan and I have worked long enough together now,” he said. “I’ve got a ton of freedom. Even in year one, I had a good amount of freedom. There’s a lot of give and take with that, and I feel 100-percent comfortable. I’m happy with it.”

As for Johnson his comments were rooted in the desire to be a more effective offense and winning, and reiterated how much he reveres his head coach.

“I wouldn’t even be here right now and be the number one receiver or have the contract that I have if it wasn’t for coach Gailey,” he said. “I’ve got too much respect for him to go about it the way it’s perceived to be. Everything is good.”