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Stevie Johnson rephrases remarks about Bills' play calling

By Tim Graham

About 23 hours after Stevie Johnson raised eyebrows with provocative comments about the Buffalo Bills' play calling, he revamped his words.

Johnson admitted reporters quoted him accurately after Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium, but claimed he used the wrong words in trying to give an opinion about the Bills' struggling offense.

Johnson said the Bills should turn over play-calling responsibilities to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, suggesting coach Chan Gailey relinquish the role since he is the one who has called the plays since he got here.

"I didn't mean changing the play-call duties and all that," Johnson said this afternoon at One Bills Drive. "I may have said it, but what I meant to say was 'audible,' to give Fitz the ability to audible a little more.

"What ended up coming out was me talking about play calling. But it was really about an audible."

Gailey said he hadn't spoken to Johnson about the remarks and didn't plan to. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell did meet with Johnson and then reported their conversation to the head coach.

"Stevie just wants to win," Gailey said. "You say a lot of things. He just wants to win. He's fine.

"You've got to understand it's the heat of the battle. If you don't know a guy, you might tend to get really upset. But if you know a guy, you know where his heart is even though he might not have said it right. I know Stevie."

Johnson was "a little distraught" over how Sunday's postgame comments were construed.

"He loves Chan," Fitzpatrick said. "You look at what Chan has done for him, he didn't really get on the field and play until Chan got here. After last season, Chan had a decision to make: Did he want to bring Stevie back or not? Nobody would've questioned it either way. And he wanted Stevie back and brought him back.

"Steve owes a lot to Chan, and I know he understands that."

What Johnson said:

"How I see it, I think we need to let our quarterback call these plays. He's out there on the field. He sees the adjustments that need to be done. I think we just need to let him make adjustments on the go. I think that's the way we can move the ball better.

"He did it a little bit in the game, and we moved the ball. ... He was hitting C.J. [Spiller], getting his run plays, doing the pass plays, and I just think we should do it more often.

"[Fitzpatrick] knows what to check into and check out of. It's different when you are looking from the booth and say, 'OK, they might be in this' than being out there. That's just my take on it. I just think that he has the ability to control the offense 100 percent. I think we should take advantage of that."

It was the second time in three weeks Johnson seemed to publicly criticize Gailey. Johnson also pointed out rookie receiver T.J. Graham never had practiced the particular play on Fitzpatrick's fateful interception against the New England Patriots.

"I'm not questioning my coach," Johnson said.

Johnson claimed the emotions of Sunday's defeat, in which he gained 100 yards for only the second time in 33 games and forced/recovered a potentially monumental fourth-quarter fumble on an interception, prevented him from choosing his words properly even though the word "audible" is ever-present in NFL parlance.

"It's all frustration," Johnson said. "We're all competitive out here. I wanted that win bad."

Fitzpatrick said he has "a ton of freedom" within the Bills' offense.

Johnson has been in a similar situation before, causing a national stir with an infamous tweet that seemed to blame God for making him drop a would-be touchdown pass in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |