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 What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"? 
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Post What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
Great stuff (as always) from Matt Bowen:

Matt Bowen wrote:
Calvin Johnson: The Ultimate Guide to NFL's Most Unstoppable Player
BY MATT BOWEN (NFL NATIONAL LEAD WRITER) ON NOVEMBER 6, 2013
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1838 ... ble-player

Calvin Johnson is the NFL’s most feared offensive weapon. A blend of size, speed and playmaking ability, the Detroit Lions wide receiver impacts defensive game plans on a consistent basis because of his elite talent and ball skills at the point of attack.

Today, let’s break down Johnson’s skill set, focus on the routes that put stress on opposing secondaries and discuss why the All-Pro receiver is the modern-day version of Randy Moss from a game-changing perspective.

Johnson’s Top-Tier Skill Set

Here’s what an NFL scout told me earlier this week on Johnson: “Big, physical, fast, great routes. Can jump out of the building. Mismatch for just about every corner in the NFL.”

Johnson is going to win the majority of one-on-one matchups (even with safety help) because of his ability to create separation within the route stem, track the ball and finish the play. And that was on display in the Lions' Week 8 win over the Cowboys when Johnson produced 329 yards on 14 receptions.

Image

I’m a big believer in technique over talent. Always have been. Footwork, hands, eyes, angles, etc. That sells at any level of football in the defensive secondary.

However, in a league that has become more dependent on schematical matchups within offensive game plans, Johnson’s talent is taking over down the field when the ball is in the air.

And that leads to multiple opportunities for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw the deep 9 (fade), 8 (post), 7 (corner) or the “sting” (stem to corner, break to the post) versus Cover 1, Cover 2, 2-Man, etc.

Find the matchup—and take a shot.

“It’s Johnson’s ball skills and body control,” Bills veteran safety Jim Leonhard told me. “They trust that nothing bad will happen if they throw to him in one-on-one situations. And even sometimes in two-on-one.

“Incomplete pass at worst. Catch or pass interference at best.”

Plus, we have to remember that Johnson isn’t limited to just running the top of the vertical route tree.

Think of the leverage he can create versus both Cover 1 and Cover 2 on the three-step slant, the inside seam route from a slot alignment or the deep dig route (15-yard square-in). Three basic concepts that force defenses to tackle and take the proper angle to Johnson after the catch.

This guy is a nightmare to defend at all levels of the field.

Production at the Point of Attack

When a quarterback floats the ball down the middle of the field versus a single-high safety defense—or a two-deep shell with safeties playing at the proper depth—that should be a pick in the pros.

Drive on the throw, play the ball at the highest point and take it away from the receiver.

But the game changes with Johnson on the field because of his ability to climb the ladder and finish—in traffic.

“He’s really good at the point of attack,” an NFL secondary coach told me on Monday. “And you rarely see 'PBU’s' (passes broken up) versus Johnson. He is so hard to stop when the ball is in the air.”

That shows up on the 9 route versus two-deep, the seam versus Cover 3 and the jump-ball situations down the field that give Stafford an option even if Johnson is covered.

Put it up and let Johnson go make the play.

Plus, let’s not forget about the one-step fade inside the 5-yard line.

In that situation, defensive backs will play for two routes with Johnson on top of the numbers or in a plus-two split (two yards off the numbers): slant or fade.

Take away the slant by alignment (inside eye) and drive to the hip of the receiver on the fade. But with Johnson's ability to play the ball (and the back-shoulder throw) at the point of attack, this is a rough situation for NFL defensive backs locked up in man-coverage.

And it often leads to six points.

The Route Tree

Using the All-22 tape, here are some of the routes that lead to production with the Lions wide receiver versus Cover 1, Cover 2 and Cover 3 (three-deep, four-under).

Flat-7 (corner) vs. Cover 2
Image

The Cowboys' young safeties are playing extremely deep in this situation and that will open up a throwing lane for Stafford to target Johnson on the 7 cut with the tight end in the flat (set some bait for the corner).

Image

The corner sinks under the 7 route to cushion the safety, but because of the threat of the deep ball (think 9 or post here), there is plenty of room for Johnson to break outside of the numbers for an explosive gain.

Post vs. Cover 3
Image

With the Cowboys showing a single-high look (Cover 3) and the cornerback playing from an outside leverage position (proper technique), Stafford is still going to test the deep middle of the field help. Force the free safety to take a clean angle and make a play.

Image

This turns into a jump-ball situation for Detroit, but as we talked about above, Johnson wins at the point of attack. The wide receiver climbs the ladder and brings the ball down.

Dig vs. Cover 3
Image
A quick look at the dig (or square-in). Johnson will press this route up the field to a depth of 12 to 15 yards, create separation on the inside cut and put the corner in a trail position. Even with a solid angle from the free safety, this turns into a productive gain because of the leverage Johnson has on an inside breaking route.

Slant vs. Cover 2
http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_ro ... 1383708881
In Cover 2, the cornerback has to squeeze the three-step slant and drive to the upfield shoulder on the throw. Here, Johnson creates leverage inside on the release versus Chicago's Charles Tillman, makes the catch and gets seven to eight yards. That’s stealing for the Lions versus Cover 2 or Cover 1 on the slant. And if the corner misses the tackle (as we saw against the Cowboys and Cardinals this season), this basic route turns into an explosive play.

Seam vs. Cover 1
Image
One thing to keep an eye on within the Lions game plan is the pre-snap alignment of Johnson. Detroit will move Johnson inside of the numbers to create matchups versus zone looks and to wok the inside seam. Here is a shot of the seam route versus Brandon Carr and the Cowboys that set up the winning score. Win on the release, stack on the defensive back and stem the route to the top of the numbers.

The “Sting” Route
Every safety who lines up in the deep half against Johnson has to alert for the “sting” route versus Cover 2. With a reduced split (tight to the core of the formation), Johnson will sell the stem to the corner (looks like a Flat-7 combination), force the safety to open his hips and then break back to the post. Tough route to defend.

Here’s a look at the “sting” route versus Cover 2 on the playbook diagram:
Image

Is There a Defensive Game Plan to Limit Johnson?

I would play more two-deep (Cover 2 and 2-Man) along with some Cover 6 (Quarter-Quarter-Half) to roll the cloud corner (Cover 2 technique) to Johnson’s initial alignment.

Going back to the 2012 season, Tillman put some impressive play on tape versus the Lions at Soldier Field in single-high safety defenses because of his ability to get hands on Johnson at the line, impact the release and then play to the hip. Plus, Tillman also mirrored the release of Johnson from an off-alignment and played through the route stem.

But can defenses count on consistent technique from their corners playing man-coverage for four quarters versus Johnson? That's a long day of work right there.

What about 2-Man? The Packers have had some success versus Johnson with the trail-man technique (two-deep, man-under), but the addition of Reggie Bush to the Lions rosters creates some issues. Now, defenses have to account for Bush and find the proper matchup versus underneath concepts along with putting a tent on top of the defense to limit Johnson vertically.

The bottom line here is simple: We can find holes in any scheme drawn up on a chalkboard when it comes to scripting a game plan versus Johnson.

This is really about technique in the secondary. And it better be near perfect to have a shot at limiting the Lions wide receiver.

The Modern Day Randy Moss

During my playing career in the NFL, Moss was the guy who scared the heck out of opposing secondaries because of his ability to run the top of the vertical route tree. Elite speed and acceleration to the ball.

Moss was a game-changer.

And when Moss got on top of your cushion, he was putting his hand up.

Time to panic as a defensive back.

Our game plans were forced to adapt versus Moss, and the video guys would have to widen the screen on the film just to get a look at the safeties playing 20 to 25 yards off the ball. Take a false step, open your hips too early or move your eyes inside and it was over.

“Feet don’t fail me now."

That was the saying we had in the secondary versus Moss. Man, he could run and go get the deep ball.

That’s what I see with Johnson in terms of impacting the game plan in today’s league. He can flip the field, blow the top off Cover 2 and eat up cornerbacks outside of the numbers with his ability to stack on the 9 route.

What a player.

Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.

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November 6th, 2013, 11:53 am
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
Yes, he is pretty good.

Good article.

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November 9th, 2013, 12:03 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
Too bad he dogs it.


November 9th, 2013, 3:58 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
DJ-B wrote:
Too bad he dogs it.


Can you imagine how good he'd be, if he didn't?

/sarcasm

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November 11th, 2013, 3:21 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
Yeah our whole receiving corps is suspect.... Burleson can't even catch a falling pizza, Johnson dogs it, Fauria is too busy taking dancing lessons, and so on....

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November 11th, 2013, 3:50 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
The only good thing Roy Williams did in his time here, besides garner us a slew of draft picks, was to coin the name Megatron for Calvin.

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November 12th, 2013, 10:22 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
m2karateman wrote:
The only good thing Roy Williams did in his time here, besides garner us a slew of draft picks, was to coin the name Megatron for Calvin.



what a joke, if this team had roy williams in his first 4 years they d be a superbowl favorite right now.


November 13th, 2013, 4:21 am
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
The Legend wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
The only good thing Roy Williams did in his time here, besides garner us a slew of draft picks, was to coin the name Megatron for Calvin.



what a joke, if this team had roy williams in his first 4 years they d be a superbowl favorite right now.


You must be joking. Roy Williams had some DECENT seasons here, mostly because he was really the only true receiving threat we had. In the end, Roy Williams proved to be just another mediocre NFL receiver. His career isn't judged by just four years here.

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November 13th, 2013, 9:23 am
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
m2karateman wrote:
The Legend wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
The only good thing Roy Williams did in his time here, besides garner us a slew of draft picks, was to coin the name Megatron for Calvin.



what a joke, if this team had roy williams in his first 4 years they d be a superbowl favorite right now.


You must be joking. Roy Williams had some DECENT seasons here, mostly because he was really the only true receiving threat we had. In the end, Roy Williams proved to be just another mediocre NFL receiver. His career isn't judged by just four years here.


R. Williams' problem wasn't talent or athletic ability, it was attitude. Now there's a guy who dogged it.

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November 13th, 2013, 10:20 am
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
m2karateman wrote:
The Legend wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
The only good thing Roy Williams did in his time here, besides garner us a slew of draft picks, was to coin the name Megatron for Calvin.



what a joke, if this team had roy williams in his first 4 years they d be a superbowl favorite right now.


You must be joking. Roy Williams had some DECENT seasons here, mostly because he was really the only true receiving threat we had. In the end, Roy Williams proved to be just another mediocre NFL receiver. His career isn't judged by just four years here.


id take a No 2 with even a shadow of the talent he had. roy didnt become the superstar he should have been but im not going to sit here and scoff at how talented an athlete he was. it faded when he left detroit sure but he was easily the most talented player the lions had on offense and his numbers came with a tremendous lack of talent at QB.


November 13th, 2013, 11:12 am
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
The Legend wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
The Legend wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
The only good thing Roy Williams did in his time here, besides garner us a slew of draft picks, was to coin the name Megatron for Calvin.



what a joke, if this team had roy williams in his first 4 years they d be a superbowl favorite right now.


You must be joking. Roy Williams had some DECENT seasons here, mostly because he was really the only true receiving threat we had. In the end, Roy Williams proved to be just another mediocre NFL receiver. His career isn't judged by just four years here.


id take a No 2 with even a shadow of the talent he had. roy didnt become the superstar he should have been but im not going to sit here and scoff at how talented an athlete he was. it faded when he left detroit sure but he was easily the most talented player the lions had on offense and his numbers came with a tremendous lack of talent at QB.


Legend, what ARE you talking about??? the guy only had 1 year as a 1000 yard reciever...and he was BY FAR our best reciever and our #1 target! The most receptions he had outside of that one year was like 64. Thats #2-3# WR numbers, or maybe a decent tight end (Pettigrew actually has had better numbers in his carreer here than Roy did if you exclude that ONE year...and there are quite a few here who wont be all that disapointed if HE leaves at the end of the year)

Roy had amazing athletic ability, but a low work ethic. he could make crazy circus catches, but if the ball hit him in the numbers, it was a drop. You can try to use the excuse that we had no one to throw the ball to him, but i would counter with 2 things, Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald put up almost identical numbers when they lined up next to him...people who, outside of Lions fans, would say "WHO?" about...and counter point 2...Kitna was no slouch. he wasnt all pro, but he was decent enough to make cast offs from other teams look decent, if Roy was so good, why didnt he look better when he had a capable QB. (outside of that 1...ONE...UNO... year)

And after he left...(and had 2 pretty darned good QB's throwing him the ball) he looked TURRIBLE! Roy was lazy and the living definition of a guy who "Dogs it".

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November 13th, 2013, 12:16 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
apparently talking to people with selective memory syndrome where the mere mention of anything positive about a player means one is claiming they were the best player in team history or a god send. roy in his 1st four years, instantly became the No 1 WR when golden boy Charles Rogers went down in Game 1 of Roy s rookie year. Anyone wants to claim Roy s rookie year wasnt worth anything, you are a bold faced LIAR. Year two a little disappointing but not so bad considering the injuries he had. Year 3 he was an overwhelming success and carried that over to year 4 where he easily goes over 1000 yards again if not for missing the last 4 games of the season with injuries. Year 5 was a disaster but are you guys saying that mess was Roy Williams fault? Was he Calvin Johnson? No of course not, but he did have a damn promising start to his career here in Detroit before his lack of killer work ethic lead to him fading a year or two early. He wasnt worth the contract Jerry Jones gave him but how does that affect the Lions or any claim that I made in my posts? If the Lions could pick up a No 2 WR that could give us anything closely resembling Roy's first 4 seasons in the NFL with the Lions and we would all take it in a heartbeat bc its obvious how much better they d be. the front office has tried over and over to land another WR and what have we got - derrick williams, titus young, mike thomas, ryan broyles, etc. throw in the fact that he survived a regime that let other highly drafted WRs Charles Rogers and Mike Williams flame out of the league and maybe he wasnt as bad as you guys are claiming. what do i know, i guess i forgot to jump onto the kris durham and kevin ogletree bandwagon...


November 13th, 2013, 12:44 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
The Legend wrote:
apparently talking to people with selective memory syndrome where the mere mention of anything positive about a player means one is claiming they were the best player in team history or a god send. roy in his 1st four years, instantly became the No 1 WR when golden boy Charles Rogers went down in Game 1 of Roy s rookie year. Anyone wants to claim Roy s rookie year wasnt worth anything, you are a bold faced LIAR. Year two a little disappointing but not so bad considering the injuries he had. Year 3 he was an overwhelming success and carried that over to year 4 where he easily goes over 1000 yards again if not for missing the last 4 games of the season with injuries. Year 5 was a disaster but are you guys saying that mess was Roy Williams fault? Was he Calvin Johnson? No of course not, but he did have a damn promising start to his career here in Detroit before his lack of killer work ethic lead to him fading a year or two early. He wasnt worth the contract Jerry Jones gave him but how does that affect the Lions or any claim that I made in my posts? If the Lions could pick up a No 2 WR that could give us anything closely resembling Roy's first 4 seasons in the NFL with the Lions and we would all take it in a heartbeat bc its obvious how much better they d be. the front office has tried over and over to land another WR and what have we got - derrick williams, titus young, mike thomas, ryan broyles, etc. throw in the fact that he survived a regime that let other highly drafted WRs Charles Rogers and Mike Williams flame out of the league and maybe he wasnt as bad as you guys are claiming. what do i know, i guess i forgot to jump onto the kris durham and kevin ogletree bandwagon...



well...you did say
Quote:
id take a No 2 with even a shadow of the talent he had


And Im sorry, for a number 2 guy I want more than a one year wonder. THATS ALL ROY ENDED UP BEING! besides that one year what do Roy ever accomplish outside of mediocrity?
he simply couldnt catch the easy balls (dont forget how many times we led the league in dropped passes when he was in town..he wasnt the only guilty party, but was a SOLID contributor to that statline), his concept of run blocking was laughable at best, and his YAC were a joke. he could never get his gigatic clownlike feet under him after a catch.

You can call me a bandwagoner all you want, but that doesnt change that fact that Roy was nothing more than a one year wonder with HUGE potential that was pissed away with pure laziness.

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November 13th, 2013, 4:42 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
hah, is kris durham or any of the other guys we have not named calvin johnson even a one catch wonder?


November 13th, 2013, 4:51 pm
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Post Re: What Makes Calvin Johnson "Megatron"?
FYI - 16 game avg for his first 4 seasons in detroit: 71 catches - 1062 yards - 8 TDs

Calvin 1st 4 years 16 game avg: 72 catches - 1118 yards - 9 TDs

those are facts, for your purposes you may want to stick to the clownfeet story


November 13th, 2013, 5:08 pm
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