LJ's Pro Bowl run looked familiar


Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2006
Reaction score
LJ's Pro Bowl run looked familiar
Feb 14, 2006, 2:00:45 AM by Jonathan Rand - FAQ

The Pro Bowl may be a meaningless exhibition, but for the five Chiefs who participated, it was as much of a postseason as they’ve gotten lately. They earned an all-too-brief place in the limelight, which lasts for months if you’re starring on a Super Bowl team.

A player’s performance is hard to evaluate in an all-star game like the Pro Bowl. The pressure’s off, he doesn’t play long enough to get into the flow of the game and he’s working with an unfamiliar cast. Still, Larry Johnson broke loose for a 20-yard run while totaling 33 yards. He was the AFC’s leading rusher despite getting only four carries.

It’s been natural to wonder whether the Chiefs have been shrewd enough to acquire two Pro Bowl backs, Johnson and Priest Holmes, or if their line is so strong, your mailman could pick up 100 yards on any given Sunday.

Heck, Derrick Blaylock looked like a big-time back when Holmes was injured in 2004. He used a spurt of success to grab a nice free-agent contract from the Jets, but missed nine games last season because of a broken foot and didn’t show much when healthy. The quality of his blocking in New York wasn’t nearly what it was in Kansas City.

But here was Johnson, among mostly strangers, looking just like the back who finished the season with nine straight 100-yard games. Of course, once he got about halfway through this streak, it was fair to conclude he’s a special package of power and speed.

Which brings us to the issue of whether the line makes the back or the back makes the line. Chiefs guards Will Shields and Brian Waters and tackle Willie Roaf made the Pro Bowl, though Roaf skipped the game because of injury.

No back can succeed without a decent line. Hall of Fame runner O.J. Simpson appeared a bust for his first three seasons in Buffalo until the Bills were able to upgrade his blocking. He soon became the NFL’s first 2,000-yard rusher.

I’d rather have a great line and an ordinary back than a great back and an ordinary line. But the fact is, the back and line feed off each other.

A back can’t go anywhere without holes. Yet blockers look a lot better when they don’t have to hold their blocks too long.

Holding off the NFL’s defensive behemoths is no picnic but it becomes far less of a chore when you have a back with Holmes’ speed, elusiveness and quick feet, or with Johnson’s speed and power.

Holmes, when healthy, is so quick on his feet that he hits a hole and gets into the secondary before a defender knows it. Johnson is so strong that for every defender his blockers take out, he’ll run over a few more before going down.

Mike Cloud got a great opportunity to boost his stock when he started in place of Holmes, who was injured, in the last two games of 2002. Despite the Chiefs’ tremendous line, Cloud struggled and stamped himself as a journeyman.

It’s popular to say that Johnson runs with a chip on his shoulder, still steaming over two years of backup duty before getting a chance to play every down. Well, it’s almost impossible for any player to work up a good rage at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

So while it’s undeniable that Johnson gets plenty of help from his linemen and his attitude, his cameo appearance in the Pro Bowl should’ve reminded us there’s a ton of pure ability there, too.

This thread has been closed due to inactivity. You can create a new thread to discuss this topic.