The gods of professional football keep frowning on Charley Johnson.
Whoever thought of the phrase "injury prone" seems to have had him in
mind. Three times during his ten-year career the 6-0, 190 pound Texan
has been sidelined by severe injuries, the latest of which came in
Houston's fourth game against Baltimore this last season.
Apparently received new life when he was traded from St. Louis, where
he'd spent 10 seasons, to Houston. The Cardinals had been split between
the Johnson Factions and the Jim Hart Factions. The trade helped both
quarterbacks. Johnson asked to be traded and was, ending up in Houston
with his old Cardinal coach, Wally Lemm.
Johnson had completely healed from his old injuries when he joined the
Oilers. While at St. Louis, Charley had surgery on both knees and a
shoulder, missing more than half the 1965 season and about half the 1966
season. His career came to a virtual standstill in 1967 and 1968 when he
was on active army duty. He became only a weekend player and didn't get
in enough work to be effective, so he was Hart's backup. The idleness
hurt him in 1969.
Charley Johnson is extremely intelligent. His IQ is around 150 and he
will get his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in June. Perhaps he is TOO
intelligent. Somewhat withdrawn and quiet off the field, Johnson ranks
fair as a leader. He is an excellent signal caller. He mixes his running
game and passes well and can move a team. He sometimes has a gambler's
flair and will throw on third down and short yardage situations when a
run is expected.
His arm is not strong and he has problems getting the ball to his fast,
excellent receiver- Jerry LeVias. If he had a chance of succeeding it
will come in the Astrodome where there is no wind. If he's playing
outdoors and it is windy, expect the option ball . . . one you can catch
at either end.
Limited to mostly short passes, he is very accurate with them. He is a
pocket passer and has a quick set-up and fast delivery on short routes.
He is not a good scrambler.
Tends to get hot and cold streaks going. When hot he's dangerous. But
mostly he has been inconsistent. "He was sporadic at St. Louis and he'll
be sporadic at Houston," said one opponent.
Does not rate in upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. "He's never
impressed me," a scout says. "I've seen him play some great games but
I'm just not all that impressed. He's smart and has a lot of experience
but, as far as ability, I don't rate him very high.”
But Johnson, now 32, is an improvement at Houston. The Oilers have been
looking for a quarterback since their early days when George Blanda was
With luck Houston could win a division under Johnson because he has a
good supporting cast. He had excellent receivers at St. Louis and also
does at Houston with such people as LeVias and Tight End Alvin Reed.
That is, the Oilers could
win under him if they can keep him standing.