By: Mike Feld
Lions fans who have been looking for answers this season finally have some good news: Calvin Johnson has an explanation for you.
Megratron told Stoney and Sara during their weekly chat that the Lions’ woes this season are centered around one simple hiccup that has plagued the team through the first 14 games of the year.
“The lack to be able to come up with that one more play,” Johnson said. “I can just talk about the offense; coming up with that one more play to seal the game or to prolong a drive. Things like that. Those little things.”
The little things have quickly added up in a big way as the season’s conclusion nears. For a team that had expectations of another playoff berth and hopes of an NFC North division title, the thought of celebrating yet another April Super Bowl – the NFL draft – is disheartening.
But is it worse than the infamous 0-16 season of 2008? Johnson can’t answer that, but he can see why some people feel that way.
“That 0-16 hurt,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to compare the two, but [it’s] the fact that we had the expectations for ourselves and not what everybody else put on. The expectations that the guys on the team had … we didn’t come close.”
There may not be a bigger metaphor for how far the team actually was than last Sunday’s blowout loss to Arizona.
The 38-10 defeat was not only the first time the Lions faced a true blowout, but it was perhaps the worst game of Matthew Stafford’s career.
It makes sense that the franchise quarterback would come out after the dismal performance – one that included to pick-sixes – and blame himself for that loss.
Johnson, however, believes it wasn’t on him.
“I went up and told him that afterwards,” he said. “‘It’s not just you. It’s a team thing. It takes 11 to get this thing done. We’re all in it together.”
The [Honolulu Blue and] Silver lining on this season is that No. 81 has accomplished quite a bit individually – including 1,667 receiving yards and a shot at breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season yardage mark.
Johnson is still coy about the potential of breaking the record, but he can’t help but admit it’s still on his mind.
“I’ll have to honestly say, maybe as you get real close to it,” Johnson said. “[But] you just want to go out, get the play. You can’t really be worried about it at the time. If it happens, it happens.”
It’s not just CJ who has something to play for, however. Usually, a disappointing season results in a high turnover rate, meaning many guys are playing for their jobs right now.
“We need, for the remainder of this season, playmakers to step up so you can be here next here, or they’re going to make some moves,” Johnson said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Asked what area he’d like to see improve during the offseason, Johnson’s answer was simple.
“If we solidify the X position,” Johnson said. “Somebody that could receive some favorable coverage for the majority [of plays]. That’s going to be an opportunity for that person to easily solidify that position by beating those one-on-one matchups.”
For those unaware, the X position was occupied by none other than Titus Young during the 2012 season.
And given the holiday season, no one could blame Johnson for making an offseason wish list just days before Christmas. But Megatron’s requests go outside of football, too. He has one appeal for Santa this season: move that impending winter storm away from Southeast Michigan this week.
“Christmas in the South, I was praying for snow,” Johnson said. “Now that I’ve come up here, I pray that we don’t get snow.”