NFL AM: Andre Johnson Calls It Quits


Andre Johnson Retiring Immediately

Father time remains undefeated.

In the span of roughly a week, the two best offensive players in Houston Texans history have announced their retirements.  Last week, Arian Foster announced he was leaving the Miami Dolphins and now the great Andre Johnson is moving on from the NFL as well.

Johnson hasn’t been the productive force he was with the Texans after the two parties parted ways in the 2015 offseason.  After a less than stellar 2015 campaign with the Indianapolis Colts where he caught just 41 passes for 503 yards with four touchdowns, he moved on to the Tennessee Titans where he hasn’t caught a pass since Week 5.  In his final season, the former University of Miami star caught just nine passes for 85 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

Over his 11 seasons in Houston, Johnson averaged 92 receptions, for 1,236 yards with a total of 70 touchdowns.  He was one of the game’s very best receivers despite playing without a great quarterback, as Matt Schaub was probably the best signal caller he lined up with during his time with the Texans.

“There’s not many players, when you draft them — even when you draft them high — that you figure are going to be Pro Bowl players and dominant players … but Andre did,” former Houston Texans general manager Charlie Casserly who drafted Johnson said. “Andre was the biggest, fastest, most-talented wide receiver that I ever scouted. We worked him out at the University of Miami on grass. He ran 4.35. And he played fast on the tape.

“To get a guy that big, that fast, that’s a great player — now that’s a rare situation. And on top of it, his work ethic was off the charts. … He was a guy who set the example by the work ethic. How hard he practiced. He went hard every rep, he was top of the charts in the offseason.”

The next question that comes to mind is whether Johnson will finish his NFL journey in Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Those numbers would have been a slam dunk 10 years ago, but in the pass happy league that we’re seeing now it’s not quite as certain.  Although the former Hurricanes star’s final statistics of 1,062 catches, for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns is mighty impressive, when it’s time to vote five years from now those stats won’t look quite so gaudy.

Casserly, who is hardly an unbiased observer had this to say about Johnson’s HOF candidacy.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” said Casserly. “His next stop’s the Hall of Fame. I was fortunate enough to be around Art Monk in Washington and as great as Art was, I think Andre is ahead of him. And Jerry Rice is acknowledged as the best receiver in football, but I’ll say this: Andre had as much talent as Jerry Rice.

“He just didn’t play for the 49ers and a Super Bowl team with Super Bowl, Hall of Fame quarterbacks in their prime,” Casserly said. “He’s as good as Jerry Rice in many areas — in all areas. … This guy was a dominant, dominant player in the National Football League.”

It’s my belief, as I used to cover the AFC South exclusively, that Johnson is indeed a Hall of Famer.  His impact went far beyond the statistics and teams had to account for him every week, on every play.  Those numbers certainly would have inflated if he hadn’t spent much of the prime of his career playing with the David Carr’s, Sage Rosenfels and Matt Schaub’s of the world.  I don’t think he’s a first ballot guy, but he will eventually get his bust.

Vikings Offense Dysfunctional On Monday Night

The Minnesota Vikings have a championship caliber defense, which makes up for their average on a good day offense.  It only became a matter of time before the defensive side of the ball would eventually break and not be able to carry the weight of the entire team.

Minnesota lost their second consecutive game as they were defeated by the Chicago Bears on Monday, 20-10.  In a game between a 5-1 team and a 1-6 team, it was difficult, if not impossible to tell which squad was in first place and which was in last place.

The return of Jay Cutler to the Bears certainly helped as Chicago finally had some semblance of a passing attack.  Cutler out-dueled former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford as he completed 20 of 31 throws, for 252 yards with a touchdown and a quarterback rating of 100.5.

“I think it was more fun just to watch my teammates and see how hard they played and how well they played,” Cutler said. “One win coming into this one, they had a lot of outside noise.”

It’s likely that barring an unforeseen string of great games that this will be Cutler’s last season in Chicago.  The team faces just a $2 million cap hit if they part ways after 2016 and with their record and his recent play and/or injury history, it’s clear that “Smokin’ Jay” is no longer the answer in the Windy City.

As for Minnesota, they made the Bears defense look like that of the 1985 season.  Chicago sacked Sam Bradford five times and forced a pair of fumbles.  Although they didn’t recover any or actually turn the Vikings over they held Minnesota to just 258 yards of total offense.

“We’re a good team,” guard Brandon Fusco said. “It’s not us. It’s not Viking football. That’s what is frustrating, we’re such a good team. What we’re putting out on the field is not us. We have to watch the film and get better from this.”

Fusco is half right.  They have a good defense, but their offensive line can’t block anyone, the quarterback is reverting back to the form that made him expendable and the receiving corps doesn’t scare anyone.  Without Adrian Peterson running through people, Minnesota has nothing going on in the running game.

If Minnesota can’t beat the lowly Chicago Bears in front of a national television audience, it’s difficult to say anything outside of Jacksonville on their schedule is a sure win.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.