I know you’re feeling weary, tired, and cold. You’re worried about Calvin Johnson, even though in truth the only difference between Calvin Johnson in 2011 and Calvin Johnson in 2012 are his touchdowns. I realize the use of the word “only” there will make cutlery fly towards eyeballs. Worse, pandas will trash office space.
But before we get to the real reason for your broken objects and hair eating (not just pulling, because we’re long past that) let’s bury the lede a little and look at some very simple but very revealing Johnson numbers.
Yes, he now quite infamously has only one touchdown so far this year, whereas last season he had 11 scores by Week 8, setting a particularly blazing pace over the first four games with two TDs every week during that stretch. But while there are many things in his existence that Johnson can control, he has only moderate control over his offenses’ overall red-zone success, and no control whatsoever over Matthew Stafford’s accuracy.
That’s right, oddly Stafford’s accuracy is directly connected to the amount of scoring the Lions’ offense does, and therefore also the frequency with which Johnson crosses the end-zone line. Even with his three-TD outburst last week, Stafford has still thrown only eight touchdowns through eight weeks, and he had 19 at this time last year.
But while that whole scoring bit is significant — and unbelievably, Johnson still hasn’t caught a touchdown pass from Stafford yet — that’s truly been the only difference in Megatron’s game. Currently he’s sitting at 41 receptions with 638 receiving yards. Last year, he had 41 receptions and 679 yards through his first seven games. Sort of uncanny, isn’t it. But PANIC.
Now, I get that to an extent cumulative stats are secondary to week-to-week results, and recently Johnson has struggled, with only 80 yards over his last two games. And thus we’ve finally dug up our buried lede.
Johnson has been dealing with a knee injury, which is bothering him to the point that last week he admitted it’s tough to stick his foot in the ground and cut like he normally would. So he’s been slowed, and he’s been limited, and you need to be aware of that. Megatron may not post numbers which are very mega for the next few weeks, just as he hasn’t for the previous two weeks. That’s cranking the suck knob pretty far, but I’ll still take him at 75 percent over, well, most of the league.
The panic today that’s been presented in all caps around some areas of the Twitter-o-sphere is tied to Johnson’s practice status. Namely, that he missed practice today, for the third straight day. While normally that would indeed be a fine reason to hug your favorite furry blanket, stay sober, friends. And please, for the sake of our world, stop talking about the Madden curse.
Johnson has been receiving treatment all week, the kind of treatment that requires rest with the ultimate goal of course being to restore his health for the remainder of the season. That’s why while you were scared last week when he missed practice and you’ve downright petrified this week, don’t be. Just don’t.
Here’s what Johnson said yesterday: (from Lions.com)
Johnson has yet to practice this week, but says that’s just part of the regimen to get him ready for Sunday.
“That’s the main thing, just being ready for Sunday,” he said. “I have to be out there to help these guys out.”
That’s been the theme all week, and it’s not changing now. He’s out of practice due to his treatment regimen, which requires rest so that he’s in optimal condition when it matters most on Sunday.
Monitor this situation, because that’s what any diligent owner would do. But despite the ominous headlines, it doesn’t seem like Johnson is in much danger of missing time during an ideal matchup against the Jaguars and their severely depleted secondary.