By Ashley Dunkak
Calvin Johnson is the NFL’s best wide receiver. Darrelle Revis is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Sunday, the two stars meet.
When the Detroit Lions run up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend, the matchup between those two alone figures to be worth the price of admission. Revis held Johnson to one catch for 13 yards when the two met in 2010, but Johnson has much more experience and many, many more successes since then.
“This is a big matchup,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Friday to Karsch and Anderson of 97.1 The Ticket. “Revis is one of the top cover corners in the NFL. He has great eyes for the football. Calvin’s one of our top playmakers, so something’s going to have to give there.
“Whoever wins that matchup,” Schwartz added, “is going to go a long way to winning the game.”
Johnson, while not particularly comfortable with the media spotlight, has likely grown accustomed to opposing defenses planning specifically to stop him. After all, teams have been doing that for a while. This week, Revis presents more of a challenge than most, but Johnson will surely see other players defending him too.
“He’s had that before,” Schwartz said. “He’s going to get all the attention that any opponent has whether it’s a top cover corner, whether it’s scheme, whether it’s a combination of both. Even when Calvin’s got the Pro Bowl type corners, they still get help. That’s just the nature of the game.”
What constantly boggles the mind about Johnson, of course, is that he usually produces no matter what.
“That’s one of the things that’s so impressive about the run that Calvin’s had,” Schwartz added. “He’s a marked man every single week, and he’s still been able to produce about record levels. That says a lot about him and his ability to play all three positions, his ablity to be multi-dimensional. He can attack the whole field – short passes, long passes, run after the catch. He can really do it all. [Quarterback] Matt Stafford’s been able to get him the ball, [offensive coordinator] Scott Linehan’s been able to put him in good position to be able to do it.”
All that said, Revis is no slouch. The seventh-year corner is a four-time Pro Bowl player whose talents everyone appreciates. Johnson mentioned Revis plays the ball well, almost like a receiver in the way he sees it and sometimes catches it. What makes Revis better than the average corner, according to Johnson, is his strength. Even in his acknowledgment of that, though, Johnson does not sound intimidated in the least.
“He’s strong,” Johnson said. “He’s a lot stronger than the normal corner you would face on a regular day, but other than that, just another corner.”
No matter how the battle turns out, it is likely to be an entertaining one.
“That’s the fun part about what we do, to have a matchup like this,” Linehan said. “This is what people pay money to go watch, watch two of the best players at their position in the game playing against each other.”