By handing him a 5-year, $72.5 million contract, the Jets not only made Trumaine Johnson one of the highest paid players in the history of their franchise, but they made him the second highest paid cornerback in the NFL and the highest paid non-QB of 2018 free agency. It’s only natural that he deserves a mega film mashup, with a world record 18 GIFs.
As you’ll see going through the clips below, I think Johnson’s game projects well to the sets that the Jets like to run defensively under Todd Bowles. That gives me confidence he can prove himself worthy of the megadeal I was a bit hesitant to believe he was worth even before free agency. However, I’ll be honest, I didn’t see this superstar shutdown corner the Jets have been hyped to be getting. I saw a solid player at best who needs to prove a system change can lift his game. Let’s take a look.
Johnson (#22) bounced around the formation a lot. He was primarily a left corner, but in certain games followed the opponent’s #1 receiver to the right side. He had a handful of slot snaps against top receivers as well, and sometimes stayed home in zone coverage on his left side.
I’ll dive right in with a few of the most maddening Johnson clips before finishing off with his most impressive. The 6’2 Montana product is best known for his length. When he isn’t getting physical or keeping the play in front him to burst to the ball, he just looks very beatable. Inside moves, quick slants, stop and go’s, he was too susceptible to just about anything of that nature. T.Y. Hilton runs this out route on a dime and leaves Johnson in the dust. (Top of screen)
Paul Richardson gives Johnson one step outside and that is all he needs to find acres of green grass over the middle of the field. Luckily Russell Wilson didn’t throw it in that direction. (Bottom of screen)
The very next play, Johnson again lets Paul Richardson get open over the middle of the field as he is bottled up on a pick. This pick attempt was pretty lame, too. It looks like he overcompensated curving outside as he anticipated the pick, when he could’ve just followed Richardson in a straight line. (Bottom of screen)
Johnson gives DeAndre Hopkins a huge cushion and has nowhere near enough speed to meet this quick slant. Notice this is yet another negative Johnson play in which he was not playing press coverage. (Bottom of screen)
Johnson backs a good 5 yards off of Hopkins prior to the snap and still gets burnt for a 30+ yard pass down the sideline. What got him? Yet another inside move. Sensing a theme yet? (Top of screen)
Not only is he too gullible to quick change of direction moves, he just doesn’t flash the quickness to make up for those mistakes. The measurable chart below matches up very well to his play style.
These next three plays against Michael Thomas are not promising. First, Thomas sets up Johnson with an outside move to get room inside. Then.... what is this recovery effort? With Drew Brees on the other half of the field, Thomas slowed up a bit, but Johnson didn’t make a recovery effort and gives up a clean catch. (Top of screen)
In the slot on the defense’s left side, once again all it takes is a simple outside first step from Thomas to gain sufficient room to the inside.
Get ready to cringe. Johnson once again lines up against Michael Thomas in the slot on the defense’s left side. Not much to say here. Yikes....
So, how did Trumaine respond to Thomas on the very next play following the previous one shown? He used that 95th percentile height and those 94th percentile arms and got physical to shut down Drew Brees’ first read. This right here is what earned Trumaine Johnson the big bucks. (Bottom of formation)
When Johnson has the play in front him, he does a great job of breaking on the ball and making a play. Tight to the formation on the defense’s right side against T.Y. Hilton, Johnson gets very physical and takes advantage of a terrible throw, returning it for a score (not shown).
Off coverage again here for Johnson, but yet another quick break and finish on the ball. If you’re the offense and you have Trumaine in off coverage, you are playing right into his hands with quick throws like this one. (Top of screen)
Similar to the play above, Johnson is way off of DeAndre Hopkins at the snap. A very efficiently run break to the perfect spot for the pass breakup. He might’ve gotten away with one here, as he made contact a bit early, but his physical style lets him slip a lot of contact by the officials on occasion. (Bottom of screen)
Finally, Johnson isn’t fooled on an inside move as Thomas trips and Johnson moves his feet quickly to stay with the outside route. Good tackle. (Slot on defense’s left side)
Johnson can defend the simple go route very well with his long frame. Here’s a good coverage snap against Tyler Lockett. (Bottom of screen)
Another good rep along the sideline against T.Y. Hilton. (Top of screen)
Really strong play against Doug Baldwin, forcing him along the sideline and tipping the ball without committing a penalty on the type of play where pass interference is common. (Bottom of screen)
Johnson isn’t going to lose physical battles like this one very often, getting into it with Hopkins. (Top of screen)
I also want to point out that, while it’s not ideal the Jets play him in this type of role often, Johnson was sound in zone coverage. As we’ve seen, he doesn’t necessarily have the range to thrive in zone at a high volume, but I rarely saw him give anything up out of a zone. Here he comes out of the zone for a great play on the football.
Johnson has a lot of really tantalizing traits for a corner. He’s tall, long, tackles well, can make plays on the ball, and has solid anticipation. He is just very susceptible to getting beat by quicker receivers on lateral routes towards the middle of the field or towards the sideline. If the Jets can minimize this weakness and get him in press coverage as much as possible, they’ll give themselves the best shot of maximizing Johnson’s talents.
How will Jets fans look back on this contract in 5 years?
This poll is closed
Johnson will be on his second deal looking to pad on to a Ring of Honor career
It wasn’t an all-time steal, but they got solid production for the entirety/almost the entirety of the deal
It was solid for 2-3 years until he declined and they had to move on
He made his share of big plays but was not missed when they cut ties as soon as possible
An all time joke of an albatross contract