Detroit Lions: Keeping Calvin Johnson healthy in 2015


As we all know, Calvin Johnson is a staple to the Detroit Lions offense.

He has been the go-to guy for Matt Stafford for years. Unfortunately, because of this, he has been forced into some tough spots to catch a ball that end up resulting in injury. For the longest time, he was it. Then, Golden Tate came along, and that helped Calvin a little bit. There are a few things that will help to keep the aging receiver on the field, productive, and among the elite receivers this season.

"May 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during OTA at Detroit Lions Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports"

First, the offensive line needs to give Stafford time.

Last season, he was sacked 45 times. This can simply not happen again. Not only does it wear down the durability of the quarterback, but it also doesn’t allow the time for the routes to run out and for a good decision to be made. This year, with Mike O’Hara of reporting that Travis Swanson will likely be at center, and with Manny Ramirez joining the offensive line, I feel that problem will be resolved. Between those two and the drafting of Laken Tomlinson, the line should be back to being a solid line again. There is depth and there is strength there.

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With a strong offensive line in place, the next step is to have other receivers running solid routes.

Running routes and shedding blockers is important in opening up targets other than Calvin to make a play. Once those targets are open, and are utilized, then the defense will have to adjust to make the coverage stronger on other receivers, opening up Calvin for some 1-on-1 coverage where he can perform his magic.

Finally, having a solid No. 3 wide receiver in place will improve things immensely for the Detroit Lions.

Teams already know they have to cover both Tate and Johnson well in order to eliminate the big plays. By adding an additional threat, that forces the defense to spread out more and leave more 1 on 1 coverage for the targets of Stafford in the passing attack.

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If you combine all of these things together, I feel that will help to eliminate the throws into triple coverage that tend to knock Calvin around a bit and cause injury. Last year, he dealt with a high ankle sprain that kept him out of 3 games last season and limited him in a couple additional games.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “If Stafford would throw to other receivers, he wouldn’t be as banged up”.

While this is a correct statement for seasons prior to 2014, last year the ball was pretty evenly distributed between himself and Golden Tate. Prior to Tate’s arrival, Calvin was the main man on the field. He was the safety net. Every QB on every team in the NFL has that one receiver they throw to if nothing else looks viable, their safety net. All-in-all, the front office seems to have put together a solid Detroit Lions team for this season that can keep Calvin Johnson not only healthy, but productive.

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