Pecking Order: Stevie BenchedJanuary 1st, 2012 at 8:47 pm by Paul Peck under 4 Warn Weather
Everybody is talking about Stevie Johnson and his benching against the Patriots. There are a lot of levels with this story. The celebration, the benching, the team reaction, the free agency/contract effect on Stevie.
I’ll break them down one by one.
The Celebration: Stevie raises his uniform to show a hand-written “Happy New Year!!” Same thing he did in Cincinnati last year. He wasn’t penalized then, but fined later. This time he gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But why do it? You’re already on thin ice with your celebrations. So why push it? Why is it so hard to spike the ball or hand it to an official. Stevie’s already popular in WNY. What more is he looking for? Besides, he should have know better, because…..
The Benching: Stevie knew that Chan Gailey had told the team the next player to get a celebration penalty would be benched. He knew that. He should have known it was mostly directed at him. I don’t care that he didn’t think he’d get a penalty, because one wasn’t called in Cincinnati last year. Be smart. Don’t push it. You know you’re Coach isn’t happy with you after the Jets game. He had to know this would be pushing his buttons. He had to know Chan wasn’t messing around. This is a total lack of judgement from Johnson. Either that, or he’s ridiculously oblivious to all the warnings. I totally agree with Gailey. Call him old school if you want. That’s OK with me. We need that discipline around here. It’s how you learn to win. Stevie needed to be accountable, just like every other player. Don’t tell me Chan hurt the Bills chances to win. That’s on Stevie, not Chan. A bigger message needed to be sent than one game.
The Team Effect: This is over-rated. Some players will think Stevie got dissed. Others will be mad at him for taking himself off the field. But listening to George Wilson talk after the game, the sage veteran voice says Stevie needs to learn and not make the same mistakes. Bingo. That’s one player saying enough already. Players understand that discipline is part of football, and a key part of the formula for winning.
The Free Agency Effect: I don’t think this issue has a huge impact, but it adds to the list. Stevie’s judgement is a concern. If you’re going to give him a big, new deal, you better have faith in him as a player, person and leader. What has Stevie done to foster any of that? It’s part of the whole consideration. I believe he is a good, not great receiver. Probably a solid #2 in a perfect situation. A thousand yards is good, but only 1 100 yard game? That’s not good enough for 7-8 million dollars. He’s just not athletic enough. The Bills need a true #1 wideout, and I don’t think Stevie is that. I would try to sign him at my price, 5-6 million. No more. I doubt Stevie could get much more unless a team overpays. Would it create a hole? Yes. Can that hole be filled? Yes. A free agent or a draft pick. Easily. You can’t overpay just because the departure would create a hole. You set a price, and stick to it. Maybe being the Bills #2 receiver would make Stevie tone it down, and stick to football.
I like Stevie Johnson. He’s a good guy, and a good player. He has a fun, fresh effect on the locker room. But he has to grow up. He’s not good enough to get away with this stuff.
I would like the Bills to keep him, but at a resonable price. No more. If he leaves, you just go get more receivers who can equal his production. It’s how the NFL works. He’s not good enough to break the bank. Save that for a real #1 receiver the Bills desperately need.