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Jets' Jermaine Johnson Ahead of Bills Game: 'I Know it's Going to Be Electric'

DC Jeff Ulbrich on the Second-Year Linebacker: ‘He’s Taken His Game to the Next Level’


When Jets LB Jermaine Johnson looks back at the tape from last season, he's disappointed -- despite a strong rookie season with 2.5 sacks and 5 QB hits in limited action.

"I have just been watching the film from last year of myself, and I'm like 'wow,' guys on other teams got let off the hook, because that's not what I am," Johnson said.

Heading into Year 2, the former first-round pick in 2021 (No. 26 overall) wants be a more impactful pass rusher and most importantly, help the Jets close out wins.

"I almost get sick when I watched film from last year, especially in close games that we played," Johnson. "I'm just so eager to go out and put stuff on film, and on the field, for my team. I want to be one of those guys playing in the fourth quarter."

In 14 games last season, Johnson, 24, had 29 tackles, 3 TFL and 11 QB pressures. He played the first five games before missing the next three with an ankle injury. After his first full offseason, Johnson returned to training camp a chiseled 6-5, 254 pounds – and coaches took notice.

"He's taken his game to the next level," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "I see a hunger in his eyes and a focus that maybe wasn't there, as consistently as it is for most rookies. He's trying to be the all-around end, which is hard to find nowadays. You got rushers, you got run stoppers. Typically, you don't have guys that do both really well and I think he's really focusing on being that guy and some encouraging signs out there that he is that guy."

See the Jets on the field for the first time in the Legacy helmets during Thursday's practice of Bills week.

Johnson's sophomore campaign starts with a primetime showdown on "Monday Night Football" with the defending AFC East champion Bills. Johnson made a pair of impact plays in the team's pair of matchup's last season.

In the Jets' 20-17 win vs Buffalo in Week 9 last season, Buffalo's Pro Bowl QB Josh Allen scrambled to his right and Johnson tripped him up for a sack. With nine minutes remaining in the game, the QB takedown set Buffalo back 4 yards and forced them to punt. And in the second matchup, a 20-12 Bills win, Johnson stormed through blockers and knocked a punt from Sam Martin out of the back of the end zone for a safety. 

"I know it's going to be electric," Johnson said about the season opener at MetLife Stadium. "I think it is going to have a college rivalry-type feel to it. And I think it's going to be rowdy. It'll be really fun to be back in that environment where the stakes are high and you know, the blood's boiling and it's the first game and you're dying to achieve that first goal to reach that end goal in the season."

In addition to the QB takedown, in the first matchup last season, Johnson broke out his "Hammer Swing" celebration for the first time. In the preseason finale against the Giants, after Johnson sacked QB Tyrod Taylor, Johnson and a band of his teammates did the celebration with him. The Florida State product hopes to break it out again Monday – and a lot throughout the season.

"It's demoralizing for the offense to see pretty much all 11 guys on the other side of the ball do the same celebration," Johnson said. "It's a testament to how much love we share in this locker room for each other. Hopefully it happens a lot this year. It is going to be fun."

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