Calvin Johnson Needs a Wingman, or Two

Ross Maghielse@@MaghielseCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2009

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 28:  Tight end Brandon Pettigrew #84 of the Detroit Lions runs a pass pattern against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field on August 28, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Lions defeated the Colts 18-17. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Calvin Johnson is without doubt one of the premiere talents in the NFL. His ability at the wide receiver position is as good as any. Yet, even the best receivers in the league have trouble catching passes in midst of double and triple coverage.


Fortunately for the Detroit Lions, they have other options. Now, it is crucial that the team takes advantage of its personnel.


Bryant Johnson, in my mind, is one of the undiscovered talents at his position. Remember how Mike Furrey came out of nowhere and flourished under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz? Johnson also has the ability to make that kind of difference.


He has averaged 40 catches per season over his six-year career, primarily as the third receiver or in the slot position. That number should double now that he is the No. 2 receiver playing alongside Calvin Johnson.


For whatever reason, Bryant Johnson was not utilized in the Lions recent loss to New Orleans. Just four catches for 45 yards.


Another weapon Detroit has is first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew. The reasoning given behind selecting Pettigrew so high in the draft was that the tight end position plays a major role within offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system.


Where was Pettigrew on Sunday?


Will Heller, known for his blocking ability more than anything else, started the game at tight end in New Orleans. He was not a factor. At least not a positive one, he did drop a few passes.


Pettigrew was an offensive threat at Oklahoma State. The 6-5 265 pound tight end needs to given an opportunity in the offense with Detroit as well. Immediately.


Near the start of training camp this season, the Lions took a flyer on Dennis Northcutt and brought him to Detroit, via a trade with Jacksonville.


Northcutt has had numerous “problems” or distractions throughout his career, but he’s always been regarded as a tremendous talent. Granted he is in his elder football years now, and not the explosive playmaker people raved about when he came out of college, but he still has plenty of football left in him.


The return game was one of, if not the, only bright spots for Detroit in week 1. Northcutt was a major role in that. His speed should be utilized at the slot receiver position as well, and even as a potential deep threat during games.


The Lions have plenty of issues, on both sides of the ball. No question. But doing one thing really well is a step in the right director to becoming at least mediocre as whole.


Detroit’s passing game has potential. Sure, Stafford is a rookie and has already shown suspect decision making. But he does have a rocket arm.


Right now the Lions have no identity. If the passing attack can develop, other areas should improve as well, i.e. the running game. Knock on wood.


Minnesota is coming to Detroit this weekend, and the home setting could be just the calming factor this team needs.


For Lions fans hoping to watch this game, its looking like you will have to purchase tickets and drive down to Ford Field. As of Wednesday 4,000 tickets still remained, meaning the game will be blacked out on local television if the stadium is not sold out. This by the way will be a trend for Lions home games this season.