December 14, 2013 at 9:41am
Before I had written my blog post on Josh Gordon, I had one half-written about Megatron, but given that Josh Gordon is just obliterating any DB that thinks he is in his way, I just couldn't not write that one first. And while the praise of Gordon is totally deserved, Calvin Johnson has a much more proven track record of, for lack of a better term, absolute dominance.
With Matt Elam recently calling Mega an old man...actually hold on. Rant time. Matt Elam, what on Earth are you thinking? Why would you, when asked about Calvin Johnson, say anything other than, "He's a freak of nature that needs to be run through a metal detector just to make sure he isn't something that was manufactured in a lab"? Anything that could even possibly used as bulletin board material for potentially the greatest receiver of all time should never cross your mind, let alone calling out his age (28...real old, right?). To be fair, I know you initially referred to him as "Big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak." but why did you continue to say anything at all? Hope you're ready on Monday night, except I really don't because I'll probably need Mega to put up some big numbers so I move onto the finals in one of my Fantasy Football leagues.
Back to the Don. I guess we should compare him to Jerry Rice, right? Right. We'll use their first seven seasons:
108 games, 526 rec, 9072 yds, 93 TDs
4.87 rec/game, 84 yds/game and 0.86 TD/game
104 games, 563 rec, 9187 yds and 66 TDs
5.41 rec/game, 88.34 yds/game and 0.63 TD/game
You know how I feel about TDs, but even I have to admit that 27 is a pretty significant difference, but Calvin has three games left to cut into that a little bit more (maybe he can catch up!...). So yeah, while Calvin leads the other two categories, probably have to give the edge to Rice here on the back of a statistic that I don't really think is that important. But similar to Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson's first four seasons consisted of 51/64 games started by Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill. Not exactly Joe Montana. And even still, he was able to put up more yards and receptions than Rice...pretty remarkable.
Since this year is incomplete, I'd think it's safe to say last year (122 rec, an NFL record 1964 yds and 5 TDs) is Calvin's best so far. Rice's through seven years is tough to say. It's probably his 1987 season (65 rec, 1078 yds and 22 TDs in 12 games), but even with the insane number of TDs in so few games, it's still just barely above 1000 yards, a total which Calvin beat by over 82%. Even if you compared them in per game terms, it's still 122.75 yds/game compared to 89.83 yds/game: 36.65% better.
At this point in their careers, Jerry Rice's highest yardage total was 1570, a number which Calvin has topped, easily, in each of the last two years, and is on pace to do again this year (needs just 219 yards in three games, 73 yds/game). Megatron has averaged 100+ yds/game for three straight seasons, something which Jerry Rice hadn't done until his then-record breaking 1995 season (his 11th season), and didn't do for the rest of his career.
After '95, Rice never had another double-digit TD season. I know, I sound like a hypocrite after all my talk about how unimportant TDs are, but it's worth noting because it's clear to see that Rice's incredible numbers were a result of a very top-heavy prime, and just volume after that. The point is, Calvin doesn't necessarily need to play for 20 years to catch Jerry Rice's numbers, he just needs to stay healthy and continue to put up quality numbers. Sounds obvious, right? But despite Elam's comments, Calvin Johnson is only just entering his prime. He turned 28 in September, and will have nearly 9500 yards in three weeks.
You never really appreciate something until it's gone, so a rare opportunity to see a future legend in Megatron, whom we may not have even seen the best of yet, is something special. And let's not forget maybe the most amazing part of it all. In the age of the diva receiver, Don Mega does nothing except go out and play. No drama, no complaining. Just goes out there and does everything he can to help his team win. This guy's been through the worst season in the history of the NFL: 0-16 in 2008, so what does he do? Demand a trade? No, he sticks around for the Lions to draft Matthew Stafford, and it's worked out pretty well ever since. He is currently under contract with Detroit until 2020, making under 20 million/year in days where 31 year old second basemen think that they'll be worth 25+ million when they're 40. The biggest controversy associated with Calvin Johnson is this:
...not drug problems, not throwing a fit at his QB, no post-game rants.
Just shuts up, and plays football.
So, in summary, Calvin Johnson's an absolute monster and may still be getting better. And now that you know: Keep Calm, and Johns-on.