Detroit's top receiving threat, nicknamed "Megatron," snared nine receptions, including three touchdown catches, in last weekend's win over Washington. Johnson played the role of big, bullying brother to the veteran Halll, who was coming off a four-interception career game. It might have been Johnson's most prolific game in his brief career, and the break-out performance that the team had been waiting on this season.
It also hasn't escaped the attention of Jets' cornerback Darrelle Revis -- perhaps the game's best cover corner, and Johnson's designated competition for Sunday's tilt between the two clubs.
"He's a great receiver, big, physical and he can run like Forrest Gump," joked Revis to Newsday. Making sure not to mince words, he added later, "That was a joke. That's not in a bad way, so don't write that in a bad way. He's fast. Like Forrest Gump in the movie."
Johnson's seven touchdown catches led the league for the month of October, while setting a franchise record. He also shares the top spot among receivers with touchdown catches (8) with the Giants' Hakeem Nicks. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll get his way on Sunday.
New York (5-2) is known for its aggressive nature, led by the league's most potent cornerback duo in Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The two are both immensely talented, and good enough to rotate on an opponent's top receiver in effort to keep opposing quarterbacks guessing -- and unable to establish any rhythm.
That is indicative by New York's most glaring defensive statistic: they're limiting quarterbacks to a completion percentage of just 48.8. The next most effective pass defense, Oakland, is four percentage points higher.
Against Washington, Detroit took advantage of the 'Skins cover-2 defense by allowing Johnson to streak down the middle of the field. Although it left him vulnerable to hits (Johnson is still nursing a sore shoulder), it also paid off with big plays. The Jets don't often offer Revis (dubbed "Revis Island") help, but if they plan on taking away Johnson's options on the outside, Detroit might dip into the middle again given the success last Sunday.
"Calvin has great down the field ability, but his ability to go across the middle is another way that he can make the defense pay; that and combined with run after the catch," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said this week.
At 5-11, Revis isn't much larger than Hall, but his athleticism, ball-skills, and I.Q. declare him a no-fly zone to most offenses. But since Johnson figures so prominently in Detroit's offensive plans, expect a battle between the two.
Notebook (Courtesy TSX):
- WR Nate Burleson was surprised at the reports that his friend and former teammate Randy Moss was being released by the Vikings. "I don't think Moss ever had any problems fitting in any locker room," he said. "When you have that type of talent and you want the ball in your hands, you have the right to make that heard. I think that's all he was doing. I played with him, he's a good dude. I am really shocked that anybody would just let him go."
- RB Maurice Morris, who has all but disappeared from the offensive depth chart, earned a game ball from the coaches Sunday for his work on the coverage teams. He made four superb plays, including two tackles.
- SS C.C. Brown (knee) took further tests on Monday, but it looks like he will be out for an extended period of time. The right knee was in a hard brace as he walked through the locker room. If he can't play, rookie Amari Spievey would replace him.
- LB Isaiah Ekejiuba, special teams captain, did not finish the game Sunday because of a knee injury. He was also getting more tests done on Monday, but his injury doesn't appear as severe as Brown's.
- OLB Bobby Carpenter, acquired two weeks ago, only played on return teams Sunday. He is expected to compete with Ashlee Palmer for the starting outside linebacker spot vacated by the injured Zack Follett (neck).