Detroit Lions fans know how good Calvin Johnson was during his time in the league, and even long after his career has ended, the metrics keep rolling in that show just how valuable he was.
Not only was Johnson capable of the highlight reel catch and play, he was also one of the most productive wideouts in the league statistically. In fact, Pro Football Focus pointed out that Johnson has been one of the league’s most valuable non-quarterbacks since 2006.
Johnson was insanely productive during his time in the league and was easily one of the best players the Lions have ever had. He’s on this list with several luminaries and he belongs on such a list given what he was able to do with the team. It’s an honor that he remans on lists like this years after his retirement.
Calvin Johnson Named PFF All-Decade Player
Recently, Pro Football Focus also outlined their All-Decade team, and Johnson was one of the highest choices on the list, coming in as the No. 16 player overall from 2010-2020.
As for why Johnson made the cut at the spot he made despite retiring midway through the decade, Sam Monson provided an explanation in a writeup.
“Calvin Johnson walked away from the game at the height of his powers, and only that held him back from the very top of this list. He left on the back of five straight seasons with a PFF grade of 88.0 or higher, and over the six seasons he played within the decade, he never had a grade lower than 83.0. He scored a touchdown on almost 7% of targets, the third-highest rate of any receiver with 800 or more targets over the decade. Calvin Johnson was one of the most physically imposing receivers ever to play the game and was virtually unstoppable at his best. Even though he played just 60% of the decade, he was one of the best 20 players to feature in it.”
It’s scary to think how much better Johnson would have been if he had kept going, but he valued his health over continuing to play. Even in spite of that, the Lions got some elite play out of Johnson throughout his career in Detroit. Obviously, he is deserving of this honor.
Calvin Johnson’s Hall of Fame Case Examined
Johnson is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2021, and it’s interesting to see some of the hype he is getting as it relates to making it to Canton next year. Recently, John Breech of CBS Sports debated some of the candidates for Johnson’s class, and explained their chances.
When it came to Johnson, Breech explained the potential ups and downs of Johnson trying to get the call next year. Here’s a look at his conclusion:
“You can definitely make a strong argument that Calvin Johnson belongs in the Hall of Fame, but Megatron might have a tough time getting in during his first-year of eligibility, and that’s mainly because his career was so short. Johnson decided to retire after just nine seasons, and that was mainly due to two reasons: His body was beat up and he was fed up with the Lions. As a matter of fact, Johnson actually did a recent interview where he took another shot at his former team.
“First thing, I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is how you should take care of your players,'” Johnson told the Behind the Mask podcast. “I go to Miami — it ain’t like Miami’s winning, but they’re taking care of their players … I go to Oakland, I’m like, ‘Damn, we don’t have none of this in Detroit.'”
Despite his sour relationship with the Lions, he did thrive during his time with the team. During his nine-year career, Johnson led was named an All-Pro three times and he led the NFL in receiving yards twice. Megatron also led the NFL in receptions in 2012 when he caught 122 passes. The impressive thing is that he did all of this even though he was usually the focal point of every opponent’s defense. During that 2012 season, Johnson finished with 1,964 receiving yards, which is still the NFL’s single-season record. As a matter of fact, no player in the NFL has even finished a season with 1,900 yards.
The biggest knock on Johnson is that he never really played on any good Lions teams. During his time in Detroit, the Lions went just 54-90 and he went 0-2 in the playoffs. Of course, no one will be blaming those losses on Johnson, especially his first one. Back in January 2012, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-28 loss to the Saints.”
Johnson would seem to be a lock to make it to the Hall of Fame given what he did in the NFL for years and also given the way he changed the game at wide receiver.
Calvin Johnson Lions Statistics
Since he came into the league with the Lions in 2007, Johnson wasted little time putting up great plays and amazing statistics. In his career, Johnson put up 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns and more than that, was a human highlight reel unlike any other receiver on the list. Out of Georgia Tech, Johnson was labeled as one of the freakiest players in the draft and he lived up to that distinction in the NFL.
Johnson shattered Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards during the 2012 season and was a stable force for the team, often playing through pain and discomfort on the field. He walked away following the 2015 season, leaving a gaping hole in Detroit’s wideout group. Since, Johnson has been embroiled in a feud with the Lions for the last few seasons over money that the team made him pay back upon retirement.
The hope is Johnson can make up with the Lions before that time, as he continues to roll in the accolades following his career. There is simply no forgetting how good he was, and that continue to linger.