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Detroit Lions in Review - Receivers

I have been wondering how to truly judge the Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. He had a sub par season, far below what he is capable of, but was it his own fault?

After a 2008 season in which Megatron brought in 78 catches for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns, he followed that up with a mediocre 67 grabs for 984 yards and only 5 touchdowns. Defending him are the simple facts that he was injured often in the season and he had a rookie quarterback in Stafford and a has-been in Culpepper throwing to him. Neither QB played very well this year. To make things worse, the two receivers who were supposed to take some pressure off of him (Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt) were horrible.

Yet even with the excuses, I felt Johnson looked slow. Calvin Johnson is as talented a receiver as you will find in the NFL. He has superb speed, great size, huge leaping abilities and strength to drag defenders with him to go along with his well above average hands. My thought against him is that he doesn't seem to have learned how to shake a defender very well. Maybe his routes never call for him to fake defenders out, I cannot say ye or nay on that. All I know is that it is rare he goes deep and leaves the opposition eating his dust. Far too often for a receiver of his talents, he will have the defenders running right along with him on deep routes. Until he learns to shake the defenders off and break away, I cannot grade him as a true elite receiver in the league. Maybe he was simply slowed down by his injuries this year. Time will only tell. But of his three seasons in the NFL, he has spend time on the bench due to injuries in two of them. That in itself is something to worry about.

Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt were as I have already said. Horrible! While defenses double teamed Calvin Johnson, these two were in consistent one-on-one battles and it was not often enough that they broke into the open. When they did there were too many dropped passes. In fact, the two of them together did not match up to the sub par season by Calvin Johnson. To make things worse, both of them barely matched up to the output of the rookie Tight End Brandon Pettigrew who only played 11 games.

Considering the situation and the injury to Calvin Johnson, I would give him a "B+" for the season. Bryant Johnson would receive a standard "F" while I would give Northcutt a "D". Northcutt I give a little leeway due to the fact he is a slot receiver and not supposed to put up huge numbers.

Receiver Grade overall = ( C )

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