Matthew Stafford does not doubt Calvin Johnson can top his 2012 season but he best be careful about what the wide receiver wishes for.
Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 yards receiving last year – coming oh so close to being the first to top 2,000 yards. He broke the record that previously belonged to Jerry Rice and also had 100-yard performances in eight consecutive games.
But racking up ridiculous stats didn’t help the Lions do much winning. How many times was Stafford firing to Johnson late in a ballgame as the Lions were trying to play comeback in one of their 12 losses? Sure, the 49ers were always an NFC threat with Rice racking up big yards but more often than not big passing numbers mean a team is playing from behind far too much. The Lions finished second in passing offense last season.
“He thinks he can (top 1,964 yards), which is all that matters,” Stafford said on NFL Network’s “NFL AM” last week, according to the Detroit Free Press. “That guy works harder than anybody I know, and he thinks he can get better, so I wouldn’t put anything past him. He’s a guy that can obviously run all of the routes — inside, outside — make all of the catches and is a smart football player and a really good teammate.”
Johnson wants to win first and foremost and he would surely trade some catches and yardage for running plays late in some victories this season. If he challenges 1,964 yards, chances are the Lions are racking up losses again this season.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune