Buffalo Bills star wide receiver Stevie Johnson had three straight seasons with at least 75 catches, five touchdowns, 13 yards per reception, and 1,000 receiving yards from 2010 to 2012, but he had a year worth forgetting in 2013. Johnson caught just 52 passes for 597 yards and three touchdowns, yielding an average of 11.5 yards per attempt. After averaging at least 60 yards per game in each of the previous three seasons, Johnson had just under 50 yards per game last year. Even worse, injuries kept the 27-year-old out of the lineup for chunks of the season, as the outspoken wide receiver played in 12 games total after never missing a game from 2010 to 2012.
Johnson is determined to have a better year next year, and he’ll start by taking the offseason a lot more seriously in order to avoid the nagging injuries that dragged him down last season. When he was on the field, he was ineffective for stretches due to those lower-body injuries, and Johnson looks poised for a much stronger 2014 season. E.J. Manuel will only get better, the Bills are dead set on adding more weapons that will help alleviate pressure off of Johnson (even if they come at the price of less targets), and the receiver seems driven to improve.
One important change? His mindset, as he seems to have matured in a way heading into this season. A potential decrease in targets? It doesn’t sound like it’s going to worry him, as Johnson stated that his No. 1 goal is to help push the Bills into the playoffs and isn’t focused on individual stats or accolades. He’ll probably have lower stats next season as the Bills add weapons, but he’ll play a key role in taking pressure off of those other weapons and being a more efficient receiver with those targets.
He said, via the Buffalo News’s Bucky Gleason, “Playoffs and that’s it. All those personal goals, they don’t really mean nothing. Last year was kind of frustrating, but when I look back on it, it was a good thing. The whole individual stats and stuff is out the window. It’s just playoffs now. It’s winning.”
That’s his No. 1 focus, and we’ll see if the Bills can surprise some people and attain this goal. They have a deep roster, but it’s all about getting a big leap from Manuel and some more playmaking ability on both sides of the ball.