Tyrell Johnson sat down after the Vikings season came to an end and began watching film of his performance. The safety received criticism at times for a lack of aggressiveness and ended up splitting reps with rookie Jamarca Sanford in the regular-season finale against the New York Giants.
"I looked at myself on film and was a strong critic of myself and everybody else," Johnson said last Friday before attending the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit in Golden Valley. "I'm doing whatever I can to get better."
After watching film with coaches, Johnson did not come away disappointed in his performance. "Actually, I played very solid," he said. "The media, people have a tendency to remember the big plays that you missed. That doesn't necessarily wrap up the whole season on what a player did. When I watched film on myself -- just being a strong critic -- I could have taken better angles on a few plays but overall [my play] was very solid."
Sanford had an impressive first season and figures to push Johnson or free safety Madieu Williams in training camp. Johnson claims he isn't worrying about that.
"Really, it doesn't have anything to do with the type of player I am and what I'm doing," said Johnson, a second-round pick out of Arkansas State in 2008. "All I can do is control myself. He's a separate entity, just like Madieu's a separate entity. We all work together so it's not a pushing factor, it's more of a working together factor. If they decide to play him in there and switch us out, it's just, so be it. I still have to handle my job, [Sanford] still has to do his job, Madieu still has to do his job. But by no means will I lay down and just give up what I've worked hard for."
Johnson does admit it was "very tough," to lose his job for a brief period but added, "I was struggling a little bit -- not putting any excuses on anything -- the coaches saw it and they pulled me and made the decision for the team, I believe. I just rolled with the punches, kept fighting and came out and did my best."
Asked if he felt he could have played a more aggressive style, Johnson said: “Most definitely. If allowed to be, most definitely, that’s where I shine through the most is just being aggressive because I’m an attack-type person. Most times safeties just react, sitting in Cover-2. That’s what safety is, you have to play safe, and a lot of people don’t really like the safeties, or knock the safeties, if you’re not just a big hitter or something. You have to be safe and you have to make up for other people’s mistakes. I could have done a better job of making up for other people’s mistakes this year."