Everyone knows what Lions receiver Calvin Johnson can do with the ball in his hands, but Johnson’s position coach says that what really sets Johnson apart is what he does when the ball is going to someone else.
Lions receivers coach Shawn Jefferson is participating in a series of videos on the Lions’ website breaking down film of Johnson’s 10 best plays of 2011, and Jefferson’s choice for Johnson’s ninth-best play was one on which Johnson didn’t touch the ball. Instead, Johnson had the key block that sprung teammate Nate Burleson, turning a pass behind the line of scrimmage into a 16-yard touchdown.
“Calvin is just a monster, perfect technique,” Jefferson said while running through film of Johnson’s block. “What we teach here is you want Calvin, when he’s about to make contact with the defender, we want him to bend his knees and explode through the defender.”
Jefferson, who played wide receiver for 13 seasons in the NFL, said he stresses in the receivers’ meetings the importance of helping out on blocking.
“This is where Calvin defines what a receiver truly is,” Jefferson said. “We always have the adage in our room, if you want the ball you better be ready to block for your teammates. . . . Here you have the best receiver in the league sacrificing his body for his teammate to get in the end zone.”
In a 2011 season full of highlights for Megatron, that block would have been an easy one to miss. But that block says as much about what kind of player Johnson is as any touchdown catch.