A Sunday where Calvin Johnson catches just two passes seems odd, right? Kind of like a game where the Vikings fail to score an offensive touchdown or rush for more than 100 yards, no? But this is the NFL, where missed opportunities are forgotten and memories are just a thing of the past.
“So, certainly he’s going to certainly get his touches this year, and I think that was an anomaly that we had this first game.”
Johnson’s lack of touches began in 2014, when he played a shortened season because of injury (13 games) and was targeted just 128 times. That total, the second-lowest of his career, came just one season after Johnson caught 82 passes for 1,492 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Though not physically diminished, Johnson’s decline can be attributed to the presence of Detroit’s other pass catchers, most notably Golden Tate.
Last season, Tate caught 99 passes for 1,331 yards, scoring five touchdowns and quickly earning the trust of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. In Sunday’s game against the Chargers, Tate was targeted eight times, hauling in four catches for a pedestrian 24 yards. He’s a weapon in the slot, outside, and even in the return game, and Stafford relies on Tate once teams focus their attention on Johnson.
Fortunately for Mike Zimmer, the Vikings may not need to devote extra players to Johnson this Sunday. Why? Enter Xavier Rhodes.