Off The Field, Kerryon Johnson Already Impressing Darrell Bevell

He's off to a good start with his new offensive coordinator.

Will Burchfield
February 14, 2019 - 1:44 pm

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Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch are but two of the accomplished running backs Darrell Bevell has worked with in the past. Reflecting on the success he's had running the ball as an offensive coordinator, Bevell also mentioned Chester Taylor and Ahman Green. 

Then he was asked about Kerryon Johnson. 

"Another one I’m really excited to work with," the Lions' new offensive coordinator said Monday night at the team's annual season ticket members summit. 

Bevell said he chatted with Johnson over the phone shortly after he was hired last month. It was a simple conversation regarding Johnson's offseason training program, but Bevell nevertheless came away impressed.

"He’s really got himself put together, he’s a smart young man. He knows exactly what his plan is. I was asking him, 'Where are you gonna be? What are you gonna do this week? How about this week? When are you coming back up here?' He had all the answers, and he’s really squared away that way," Bevell said. 

Johnson, who turns 22 this summer, sounds ready for 2019 after missing the final six games of his rookie season with a knee sprain. When he was on the field, he showed what he can do. His 5.4 yards per carry were tied for second in the NFL. 

As much as that excites Bevell, the real source of intrigue may be Johnson's ability as a pass-catcher. He was advertised as a versatile back coming out of college, and he looked the part in his first NFL season. 

"A guy that’s talented in the running game, but I’m also excited to see some of things I’ve heard about his ability in the passing game -- which I think can really be a bonus for our offense," Bevell said. 

Johnson caught 32 of his 39 targets last season for 213 yards and a touchdown. 

There's no doubt that Bevell's history paints him as a run-first OC. In his 12 seasons calling plays, first for the Vikings and then for the Seahawks, he's engineered six top-five rushing attacks. And he intends to continue that trend with the Lions. 

"We’re going to run the football, and we’re going to run it really well," he said. 

It sounds like the new direction of Detroit's offense, with Matt Patricia putting an emphasis on controlling the ball and thereby the clock. And it all points to more touches for Johnson, who was underused at times last season. 

Under Bevell, Peterson three times ranked among the top 10 in carries, and Lynch four times ranked among the top five. Johnson won't be this type of bell cow, but he knows Bevell's tendencies as an OC bode well for him. 

“Hopefully he can see a shade of me in those guys and hopefully that (means he’s) giving me the ball,” Johnson recently told the Free Press. “That’s what every running back wants. But like I said, he’s dealt with a lot of talent, he’s won a lot of games, he’s dealt with a lot of talented players at every position.

"We want to win, I’m sure he wants to win, and we can get it done together.”