Ty Johnson had a vivid description of where the 2020 season had just finished taking him.
"In a nutshell, man, just weird. Definitely a journey," the Jets' young running back said last week. "I went from Detroit to over here in New York and New Jersey, so it's definitely been just weird and wild and a long journey.
"But overall it was good."
Johnson, the Marylander with the wild hair and nose ring and rose tat on his hand, also made a big visual impact when he got his hands on the ball for the Jets this season. Last year he looked as if he might have a home with Detroit, which selected him in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. But he was a healthy scratch in a game this past September, then was waived when the Lions needed a roster spot. The Jets jumped on Johnson, acquiring him on waivers and increasing his offensive workload behind Frank Gore midway through the schedule.
Johnson responded with a nice little season that gave the promise of bigger things to come.
"I know I can run the ball, I can catch, I can block," he said, "so it's just being in the right places at the right times and preparing and studying the right way and just doing everything I can to be the guy, really. And that comes down to hard work and competing and what not."
How's this for some Johnson what-not this past season?
■ In his first action in green and white, Game 5 at Miami, he burst off left tackle on a 34-yard run. The last time a Jets RB had a longer run was Isaiah Crowell in his franchise-record game against Denver two years earlier, in 2018 Game 5.
■ He got his most action against Las Vegas (39 offensive plays after Gore was injured early) and responded with his first pro touchdown and his first 100-yard rushing game. In fact, his 104 yards, on 22 carries, was the first 100-yard game by a Jet in 39 games, ending the longest drought in franchise history.
■ With his 4.7 yards/carry and 6.2 yards/reception, Johnson became a member of the fairly exclusive Jets 5.0 Club. His 5.04 yards/touch enabled him to join Crowell, Bilal Powell (2015 and '16) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2011) as the team's only backs in the past decade to reach the single-season 5.0 yards/touch level (minimum 64 touches).
Johnson's most dynamic runs seemed to be off the left side of the offense, patroled by rookie LT Mekhi Becton. Ethan Greenberg of newyorkjets.com asked him what it was like running behind the large rookie from Louisville.
"What do you mean, how is it? It's lovely," he said. "You know how big Mekhi is and you see what he's doing to people. ...He gets great push off the ball, he's got live, active feet, good quick hands. He's just demolishing people. If he gets inside their chest, it's over with. He's driving his feet, he's pancaking them, he's throwing them out of the club.
"He's a monster, dog."
Johnson wouldn't mind building his NFL résumé to monstrous proportions. He said he'll do a lot more film study and self-scouting that stood him in good stead as a rookie last year. And of course, he and his teammates will have to get used to a new head coach and staff in the coming weeks and months.
"I feel really good about the opportunities I got and the chances I was given to get on the field and make something happen and put good film out there," he said. ""Obviously, we have to go through a process of having a new guy coming in. I'll have to earn my stripes with whoever comes in. But I love the running backs room we have now, I love the guys in there, I love the team. So we'll see how it goes."