NFL players aren’t usually in the business of publicly revealing their teams’ game plans, but Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has let the cat out of the bag on one aspect of the Lions’ offensive scheme: In single coverage, he’s getting the ball.
Johnson was asked about the Lions’ play call for his game-winning touchdown on Sunday against the Cowboys, and Johnson said that the Lions’ offense when they’re near the goal line isn’t brain surgery: If Matthew Stafford looks over and sees Johnson covered by only one defensive back, he’s throwing it up and trusting Johnson to out-leap that defensive back, regardless of what was called in the huddle.
“If we get that single coverage, it’s automatic it’s coming up to me,” Johnson said.
In one respect, it’s pretty bold of Johnson to declare publicly that every defense facing the Lions can count on him getting the ball if they single cover him. On the other hand, it’s not exactly breaking news: I noted previously this season, when the Chiefs twice left Johnson in single coverage with the Lions at the 1-yard line, that anyone who watches the Lions knows that throwing it up to Johnson is their favorite goal-line play.
But while no one should be surprised that the Lions are going to Johnson at the goal line, Johnson was surprised that Rob Ryan’s Cowboys defense left him one-on-one with Terence Newman on the game’s pivotal play.
“When I went out there I was surprised,” Johnson said of seeing only Newman on him. “I knew it was coming from the get-go.”
And every defense that faces the Lions from here on out should know it’s going to Johnson if they single cover him.