James Bradley Johnson (born September 13, 1968 in Marietta, Georgia) is an American football player. He is currently the backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Brad played at Charles D. Owen (Black Mountain, NC). He was a high school All-American in Football and Basketball.
He led the Buccaneers to their very first Super Bowl and also has one of the top 20 career passer ratings in NFL history. Brad Johnson holds a 65-43 career record as a starter, currently the 3rd best win-loss ratio among active QBs with over 50 starting games. He has also connected on over 60% of his passes for last 10 consecutive seasons, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to do this (Joe Montana & Steve Young previously held the record with eight straight seasons).
He has been twice selected to Pro Bowl: in 1999 and 2002. In 2003 he was named to USA Today's All-Joe team which recognizes the NFL's most unsung players.
He has eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark five times and in 1999, he became only the second Washington Redskin in franchise history to eclipse 4,000 yards. He had the top passer rating in the NFC in 2002 and he has earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors 7 times in his career. He has also broken almost every passer record at Tampa Bay. To date, Brad Johnson is the only NFL quarterback to have thrown a touchdown pass to himself. Against the Carolina Panthers in 1997, Johnson caught his deflected pass and ran three yards for a touchdown.
In 2003 he won the NFL's "Quarterback Challenge" competition, in which he beat Pro Bowl QBs Tom Brady, Matt Hasselbeck, Jeff Garcia, Mark Brunell, Marc Bulger and others like Byron Leftwich and Joey Harrington in a skills competition with four parts involving accuracy, speed and mobility, long distance throw, and "No Huddle." Former teammate Sean Salisbury said that despite having big, strong arms and a great deep ball, Brad always played it safe and went for the fast and easy completion which earned him the nickname "Checkdown Charlie" among friends.
Early Minnesota Years
Brad Johnson wasn't a full-time starter in college and was actually more interested in playing basketball at the time. In 1992 he was drafted out of the Florida State Seminoles in the 9th round as the 227th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings with a pick they obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was the backup quarterback, only playing in a few games, and a season in NFL Europe until starting QB Warren Moon was injured in 1996. He started eight of twelve games that year earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice and finishing third in the NFC with an 89.4 passer rating. The next year in 1997 he started again and was rated fourth in the NFC with 20 TDs and 3,036 passing yards, but suffered a season-ending neck injury in the 13th game.
In 1998 he started the first two games for the Vikings before being injured. In just those 2 games Johnson passed for an incredible 747 yards, had a 65% completion rate, 11 yd per completion, for 7 touchdowns. But in the second game, he suffered a broken leg forcing backup QB Randall Cunningham to take over for him. Cunningham, thought to be washed up at the time, exploded by clicking with seven-time Pro Bowler receiver Cris Carter and that year's newly-drafted wideout Randy Moss, now a five-time Pro Bowler. That year, the Vikings went 15-1 and Cunningham had the best passer rating in the league, an incredible 106.0, the second-most touchdown passes with 34, the fifth-most passing yards with 3,704, and was awarded NFL's MVP award by the Maxwell Club.
After this, Vikings coach Dennis Green decided to start Cunningham and trade Johnson to the Washington Redskins for a first, a future second, and a third-round draft pick. This was to be regretted the next year because Johnson went on to have his best season yet in Washington, while the Vikings began at 2-4 with Cunningham throwing more interceptions then touchdowns and getting benched and replaced by his backup, Jeff George, who helped the team to an 8-2 finish and a playoff spot. George was then dealt to Washington as Green decided in favor of starting untested second-year QB Daunte Culpepper in his first year as starter.
In 1999 Brad had the best season yet at Washington, making the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career with a 90.0 passer rating with 4,005 yards, 24 TDs and 13 INTs. His 316 completions set a Washington team record and his 4,005 passing yards ranks second all-time in Redskins history. He was also NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice that year again. He led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs and defeated the Detroit Lions in the first-round before falling to Tampa Bay by a single point the following week. The following year in 2000 the Redskins went 8-8, Johnson threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and he was traded to the Bucs while Jeff George started in Washington for 2001. They immediately regretted this when George had the worst stats in the league and was benched for Tony Banks after the second game with a 0-2 start while Johnson again had another great season in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay and the Super Bowl
In 2001 Johnson was reunited with former Vikings assistant-coach Tony Dungy for his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That year he broke Tampa Bay team records for passing yards with 3,406, completions with 340, and attempts with 540. In his 2002-2003 season he led the Bucaneers to their first ever Super Bowl championship and earned his 2nd Pro Bowl appearance. He was helped in the Super Bowl by a defense that scored 21 of their 48 points. That year Johnson also became the first ever Bucs QB to lead the NFC in passer rating at 92.9, and set new team records for touchdownss with 22, completion percentage at 62.3, consecutive passes without an interception with 187, and lowest intererception percentage with 1.3%. He was NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice again against Minnesota and Atlanta.
After the Super Bowl the Bucs ran into some problems. Although Johnson had good passing stats in 2003-2004 the year after the Super Bowl (3,811 yards, 26 touchdowns to break the Buc record again, 21 interceptions, named 2003 Buc MVP by the Tampa Sports Club) and 2004 (63% completion rate) they benched him the fourth game into the 2004 season because the team had went 4-11 for the last 15 games Johnson started. When the backup quarterback, Chris Simms was injured they started 3rd string quarterback Brian Griese instead of Johnson partly because of salary cap problems. Johnson asked out and was cut from the team at the end of the season. When he couldn't find a starting quarterback job he signed with the Minnesota Vikings to be the backup quarterback, the same exact spot where he began his NFL career.
Back in Minnesota
In 2005 Minnesota was struggling with now three-time Pro Bowler Daunte Culpepper starting at quarterback. Top receivers Cris Carter had retired in 2001, Randy Moss had been traded in 2004, and four-time Pro Bowl Center Matt Birk was injured so Daunte was expected to carry the offense. The Vikings began the season at 2-5 with Culpepper throwing twice as many interceptions - twelve - as touchdowns - six - and five fumbles (three lost) before being injured in the seventh game.
Johnson then took over as starting quarterback and the team then finished the season 7-2 with a six-game winning streak needing only one more win to go to the playoffs. Brad also set a team record for lowest interception to attempt ratio (1.3% - same as his record in Tampa) which was the lowest in the NFL among starting QBs. His passer rating was the third best in the NFC among starting quarterbacks, and was also better than three QBs selected to the Pro Bowl. He also scored more touchdowns per game than four selected to the Pro Bowl. His completion rate was 4th in the NFC. And despite his age he threw just as many 40+ yard passes as top 29 yr old QB Peyton Manning - six - in seven less games, which was the same amount as his Super Bowl year which had four more games.
Culpepper supporters would say that coincidentally the defense came together, offensive line jelled, and they had easier opponents exactly when Johnson took over. Johnson supporters would say since the only significant thing that changed was quarterbacks, Brad deserves as much credit as anybody and Johnson played against the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh ranked defenses in the NFL, which was no easy task. After a contract dispute, a disgruntled Culpepper was traded to Miami shortly after the season ended. A 37-year-old Brad Johnson is slated to start for the Vikings for the 2006 season. Many feel his quick-release style is a good fit for new coach Brad Childress's highly touted West Coast system. The knowledge he's acquired from going to the playoffs under four different coaching systems will be an asset for Childress too.
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Fumble Recovery Stats
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