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Jim Schwartz Jabs Rob Ryan After Calvin Johnson Burns Cowboys

While most people recognize the greatness of Calvin Johnson, the Lions receiver still has his detractors. In January, it was Al Davis saying Calvin is nothing special. In August, it was Cris Carter declaring that Calvin was not elite. And despite Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett saying last week that the Lions receiver could be the best player in the NFL, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan refused to praise the man known as Megatron.

In the week leading up to the Cowboys-Lions game that saw Detroit come out on top, the brash Ryan said that although Johnson is excellent, he’s not as good as Cowboys receivers Miles Austin or Dez Bryant.

Few people will deny the talent and ability of Austin and Bryant, but to say Calvin is not at their level is a joke. Megatron proved it on Sunday.

The Lions phenom caught two touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford, including one where he was surrounded by three defenders, and another where he skied a few feet off the ground in isolation. His touchdown catches were part of Detroit’s 24-point comeback win, and they served as a nice statement in the face of Ryan who dared to say he was below Dallas’ receivers.

Following the win, Lions coach Jim Schwartz took a subtle jab at Ryan. “I’m glad the third best wide reciever on the Cowboys is on our team,” he said.

Very well put, sir. That’s all that needed to be said. Calvin now has set an NFL record with two touchdowns in four straight games giving him eight on the year. He is by most accounts the best wide receiver in football.

Matthew Stafford Reminds Cris Carter that Calvin Johnson Is an Elite Receiver

The Detroit Lions are 3-0 and standing as one of the three remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has played brilliantly, hooking up with receiver Calvin Johnson for six touchdowns. On Tuesday, he decided to take a shot at former Vikings wide receiver and current ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter, who ignorantly said in August that Calvin Johnson was not elite.

“Does anyone think 8 tds in 4 weeks will change chris carters mind about an “elite” receiver?” Stafford wrote on Twitter, per PFT.

It’s a little early in my mind for Stafford to be celebrating his team and their accomplishments given that we’re only three weeks into the season. Words like that would be more appropriate for the post-Super Bowl news conference.

But I digress.

The man known as Megatron is on a record-setting pace. Randy Moss holds the single-season record for touchdown receptions with 23 in 2007. Calvin Johnson is catching two per game, which would work out to 32. Thinking Megatron will maintain this pace is unreasonable, but the number he should shoot for is 18. If he gets that many, he will have surpassed Cris Carter’s career high of 17, which led the NFL in ’95. I think Calvin can get there.

I’ve been talking up the Stafford-Calvin tandem since last year, said they were poised for an explosive season in August, and picked Calvin Johnson to be the Offensive Player of the Year in my season preview. Only injuries and triple teams can slow Calvin. Let’s hope neither one happens.

Nate Burleson: I’m Trying to be the Black Wes Welker

The Detroit Lions have scored the second most points in the NFL through two games. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for 599 yards and seven touchdowns, the latter of which ties him with Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick for the league lead. With Stafford healthy, the passing game has been blowing up, and receivers Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson have been reaping some of the benefits.

The way Nate tells it, this was all part of the plan.

“One of the biggest factors to me signing with Detroit was Calvin Johnson,” Burleson told NFL Network. “Playing with Randy Moss, I know first hand the benefits of playing with a guy that is going to attract a lot of attention. Calvin, by far in my opinion, is the best receiver in the league.

“Being on his team, it gives me the ability to be on the outside and see a lot of single coverage, but to work the slot. I joked around early in the offseason and said ‘This year I’m going to try and be the black Wes Welker.'”

Through two games Burleson has been racking up catches like Wes Welker. He has 12 receptions for 153 yards while Calvin Johnson is tied for the league lead with four touchdown catches. Based on what we saw last season and in the preseason, we predicted this was coming, but it’s still pretty funny to hear Burleson say he’s trying to be the black Wes Welker. So far the plan is working out nicely.

Todd Haley: Calvin Johnson Could Be One of Best Receivers of All Time

Throwing the “best of all time” phrase around over a young player is not always a good idea. The first issue that comes to mind with it is health. In order to become on of the greatest players of all time at your position, you have to stay on the field. Calvin Johnson is only 25 years old, so it would be way too early to speculate on whether or not he can join the likes of Jerry Rice and Cris Carter when all is said and done. Not for Todd Haley.

Mlive.com passed along a piece of Haley’s conference call with the Detroit media on Wednesday, during which he praised Calvin Johnson for being an extremely dangerous weapon.

“This 81, Calvin Johnson, was one of my favorite players as a receivers coach when he was coming out,” Haley said. “I thought he had a chance to be one of the best ever, and I think he’s kind of pushing toward that. You’ve got to handle him. If you just put the blindfold on, and hope a guy like that doesn’t hurt you, you’re probably going to have problems.”

Cris Carter and Al Davis would certainly disagree with Haley’s assessment. Trending he may be, but Johnson has been in the league only four years now and had two very good seasons and two very mediocre ones.  He has yet to catch more than 80 passes and cracked the 1,000-yard mark only twice.  The difference now is he has a quarterback who looks like he can play in Matthew Stafford, so we can truly see what Megatron is capable of.  In any event, receiving a compliment from an angry man like Haley is something Calvin can take to the bank.

Detroit Lions’ Offense led by Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson Will be Explosive

Cris Carter already got me vexed with his awful commentary about Calvin Johnson Friday. Not only was I upset because his analysis was factually incorrect, but also because I think Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Along with Matt Stafford, I believe Megatron will help produce one of the more entertaining offenses in football this season.

My love for the Stafford-to-Calvin combination is nothing new. I wrote about the tandem last November and listed the stats that show how unstoppable they are. It looks like they’re prepared to take things to the next level this year if their first preseason game was any indication.

Stafford went 6-7 for 71 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati’s top defense (I know, oxymoron) Friday night. He threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson. The best part was a stat presented by Evan Silva of Rotoworld. Silva noted on twitter that the Lions “went shotgun on 21 of first 28 snaps tonight. That’s what the offense is. Shotgun-heavy, pass-first spread. Big-time stats coming.”

My mouth watered after reading that. I know people are skeptical of taking Stafford (and Calvin somewhat) in fantasy leagues because of injury histories. I’m not. Those guys are going to blow up this year and the Lions will be a force in the NFC. I’m not going as far as Peter King and putting Detroit in the Super Bowl, but they’re certainly a team on the rise.

Cris Carter Does Not Think Calvin Johnson Is Elite, Shows His Ignorance

Cris Carter is a former eight-time Pro Bowl receiver and two-time All-Pro. He led the league in touchdown catches three times. He was an excellent receiver and a player I’d vote for the Hall of Fame. But he’s showing his ignorance as an NFL analyst.

Appearing on ESPN Radio Friday morning, Carter was asked to name the elite receivers in the NFL. His list included (in order): Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, and Roddy White. Omitted from that list was Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

When the point was raised that Calvin was left off the list, Carter explained that was done on purpose. “Calvin Johnson, he’s very, very good at Madden and Tecmo Bowl or whatever they’re playing now. But on film, when I watch film, and I break down the film, he’s not to the point of these guys yet. That doesn’t mean he can’t play. He just not there yet.”

To this point, that’s just opinion. People’s opinions differ, so it’s hard to argue with what he’s saying. But then Carter provides analysis that just shows how clueless he is.

[Read more...]

There Will Be No ‘Calvin Johnson Rule’, Call to Remain the Same

When Calvin Johnson caught a game-winning touchdown against the Bears in Week 1 this past season, it looked as though the Lions were going to accomplish something extremely rare by Detroit standards: starting off a season on a high note.  Then the score was taken away, sending Lions fans into an uproar and filling the football world with talk of a “Calvin Johnson Rule.”

According to Newsday, via Pro Football Talk, there will be no such rule in 2011.  NFL competition committee member John Mara said that after examining the play it was determined that any change to the rule would be too tough to officiate.  He explained that having to maintain control of the ball all the way to the ground makes the rule “easier to officiate.”

(Click here to see the Johnson play from Week 1)

While Mara’s reasoning may be sound, the decision is wrong.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s a reason we have human beings officiating games and not robots.  Referees need to make judgments in order to throw flags for penalties like pass interference and holding, so why can’t we extend that same responsibility to them for catches like the one Johnson made?  When it’s that obvious that he was flipping the ball up in the air after completely controlling it, why can’t the league allow officials to use discretion?

Johnson made a tremendous catch that may have even impressed Al Davis.  When everyone can blatantly see that a player made a catch and a technicality in the way the rules are written prevents a team from winning a game, you have a problem.  One came to light early last season when the Lions were screwed, and the NFL should have made a rule adjustment.