If you thought that Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson would get complacent after nabbing the Madden cover and signing the biggest contract given to a pass-catcher in NFL history ... well, think again. That's not how Megatron operates. Johnson made that clearly evident in Detroit's 27-12 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Friday night. Quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with Johnson on five receptions for 111 yards, including a 57-yarder, and this ridiculous touchdown over poor Jimmy Smith:
"We see that same coverage out there, our mouths start to water, we get hungry," Johnson said. "They were blitzing a lot so we left their corners, their DBs, on an island. That's what we look for."
The Ravens may have been playing vanilla on defense for the preseason, but you might start to wonder about their first-team defense, especially after that defense got whacked by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons last week.
"You're talking about a person who should probably be running track, but he chose football," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said of Megatron after the game. "He's a mismatch for a lot of people. The bottom line is you've just got to make him earn his check. Today, he earned his money."
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Safety Bernard Pollard agreed: "When you're playing a great receiver like Calvin Johnson, you could throw the ball anywhere, and he'll go up and get it ... He understands and knows where everybody is at, and he has a quarterback who doesn't care where anybody is at."
But as Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said on Wednesday, the Lions must develop consistent alternate targets for those instances in which defenses shut Megatron dow ... okay, we couldn't finish that sentence without laughing. Nonetheless ...
"I mean he's been around for a while. He's been through the league a couple times," Schwartz said of Johnson, and the impossibility of containing him. "You know people have tried. I think the thing with us is we need to be set up where it makes it difficult for people to take the chance of doing too much with Calvin. We put other playmakers on the field, guys that can make plays. There was a play at practice the other day where, you know, Calvin was on the outside and Matt sort of looked at him and moved the safety over the top of him and hit the tight end right down the middle.
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"I think that no matter what we see, and we'll see different things all the time, everybody's got a different idea because nobody's really been consistently successful in finding a way to get him shut down. So we'll continue to see a lot of different things, but as long as we're making good decisions on offense, as long as we have other playmakers out there, it doesn't matter what they do to him because we'll always have other answers."
And that's where this touchdown by receiver Titus Young had to be encouraging for that ideology.
Asked on Monday whether Young was ready to be a "breakout" player, Schwartz hedged his bets a bit, but you could tell that the coach likes what he's seen.
"Well, he's an important part of our plans. How, you know, breakout and everything else, I mean that's all relative as we go through the year. I mean the whole object is to score points, operate efficiently on offense, win games and he's a guy that can help us do that."
So, yeah. Matthew Stafford with better and even more consistent targets, leaving Calvin Johnson with more ways in which to bedevil opposing defensive backs. If you're an NFC North defensive coordinator, the cold sweats start for real in a couple weeks.
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