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Ode to Megatron

It’s time to pay the proper respects to Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson announced prior to free agency that he will retire from football after 9 seasons playing for Detroit. It was a sad day for Detroit football. Calvin was a class act as a player on and off the field. Megatron was humble in an era of diva WRs. Johnson was a monster WR that put up huge numbers quickly especially during the 2011-2013 seasons. Megatron drew double and even triple coverage which had benefits for Detroit’s offense. Defensive coordinators played so much two deep safety looks in games out of fear of Megatron. Often times they would even bracket Calvin underneath with a LB during Calvin’s prime. Calvin gave defensive coordinators nightmares and was a true top 3 WR every year no matter the stats in some of the down years.

The Stats

http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/10447/calvin-johnson

Calvin Johnson demolished the Lions WR receiving records. Herman Moore was a very good WR for Detroit but Johnson quickly passed him in nine seasons. Calvin broke the single season yardage record with 1,964 yards in 2012 for the NFL and was the fastest player to 10,000 yards for a WR.

Johnson had 11,619 yards in 135 games which accounted for an 86 yards per game average. Johnson average 9.2 TDs per season despite three low TD years. Johnson had 83 TDs in total and was such a red zone threat that teams would double him on the goal line. It was incredible to watch.

Johnson’s 15.9 yards per catch is a big reason he was so dangerous. Johnson had the size at 6’5 but exceptional speed to turn in small play into a big gainer. He could consistently beat double and triple teams. Johnson’s deep in-routes were an automatic first down for many years. He could turn a short catch into three extra yards just by stretching out. He could win a jump ball if needed and made several great toe tap catches on the sidelines. Calvin Johnson is everything you want in a number 1 WR.

Why He Retired?

Calvin played through pain and never missed more than 3 games in a season in 9 years. Calvin dealt with painful knee drains, extremely broken fingers that required surgery after 2013 and bad ankle issues. Calvin fought through this the last three seasons but had to give up football because of these injuries causing too much torment on his body. Calvin apologized for not giving a press conference and made his decision prior to free agency. Calvin deserved every dollar he earned.

How to Replace Him?

One guy can’t replace him or match his 2011-2013 numbers. However, Johnson’s average per game was lower the last two seasons for Detroit. His 13.8 YPC showed a chink in his armor in 2015. Many WRs in this league can get 8 or 9 TDS in a season which Johnson had in the last two seasons. Johnson’s completion percentage waned in the last two seasons below 60 percent.

Injuries took a toll on him and he wasn’t as much of a deep threat as prior seasons. Calvin was still a very good WR but even the doubles lessened in 2015. Calvin Johnson was a very good WR in 2014/2015 but not on the level of 2011-2013 Calvin Johnson.

Johnson retiring freed up 11.1 million in space and Detroit can use that to help add not only add a good WR in Marvin Jones but build the offensive line and defense. Detroit has the talent to improve offensive production without Calvin Johnson but players like Matt Stafford, Eric Ebron, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will have to prove their worth. If the offensive line improves protection and run blocking, Detroit’s offense will improve no matter who is playing WR in 2016.

Hall of Fame

Calvin may have not played enough to earn a first ballot hall of fame nod. He had great numbers but nine years isn’t enough to pad the stats with a WR heavy era. Calvin was an elite QB in his time though and broke records on a per game basis. Calvin Johnson will be missed in Detroit but hopefully in six or seven years, he’ll be in Canton. Thank you for 9 great seasons and some great memories.