Prior to the opening kickoff of the 2011 NFL season, ESPN analyst and commentator Cris Carter opined that Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is not a top-five receiver in the NFL. Carter went so far as to advise the league's defensive coordinators that double coverage on "Megatron" wasn't needed at all.
Carter's bold statement caused me to choke on my Cheerios. I actually had to clean two percent reduced fat milk off of everything I was wearing at the time. I probably blew a snot bubble.
With three weeks in the books, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to score at least two touchdowns in the first three games of a season. That's six TDs, Cris.
Hey, Carter, are you taking notes?
Failure to double cover Johnson is absolutely foolhardy. Just ask Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib, who was toasted on a Week 1 sideline pass that went for a 32-yard TD.
Or, Carter might ask Vikings corner Chris Cook, who got burned for a 32-yard TD in Week 3. Cook had perfect position and tight coverage on Johnson, but couldn't hang in the air as he watched Johnson snag a pass that only he could catch.
Johnson has Michael Jordan-esque quality hang time when airborne. It's not Cook's fault. Cook had won his share of battles against Johnson, but it was only a matter of time.
Then, Carter should talk to Vikings CB Cedric Griffin, who was abused for 40 yards in overtime. Johnson made an over-the-shoulder, Willie Mays catch while wearing Griffin like some gaudy piece of costume jewelry. The Lions would kick the game-winning field goal on the very next play.
This, Johnson would later say, is a play that he and QB Matt Stafford practice daily, and during pregame every Sunday.
Johnson is the game's best receiver. He wears a tee shirt beneath his uniform jersey with the word "IMPOSE" emblazoned upon it. That sums it all up nicely.
For Carter's benefit, let me repeat: Failure to double cover Johnson is absolutely foolhardy.
I am sorely tempted to go troll city on Carter until he recants his testimony regarding Johnson's status among the elite receivers in the game.
There's no need, as Johnson's play speaks more eloquently than any accolade that anyone could possibly imagine.
As for you, Carter? All I can say is "C'mon, man!"
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