ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Though he’s never really asked for it, all Calvin Johnson has really needed is some help.
Help would take some of the intense focus of defenses off of him and potentially give him more single-coverage matchups than he has seen to date in his career. Now in his eighth season, he is hoping the Detroit Lions have managed to give him that.
By signing Golden Tate in free agency and drafting Eric Ebron, there are now more things for defenses to be concerned about -- perhaps alleviating other concerns and forming an offense with Johnson as a focal point of it instead of the focal point.
“Golden is going to get a lot of one-on-one coverages, man,” Johnson said Tuesday. “All those weapons that we have, those one-on-ones, they go full-circle and I might get some more myself.”
That might be a bit of wishful thinking by Johnson, who often treats double coverages as other receivers would treat single coverage. There’s a reason he is widely considered the best receiver in the game and one of the best all-time.
Despite all the attention and coverage, Johnson has four straight 1,000-yard seasons, has caught more than 10 touchdown passes in a season four times in his career and has caught at least 67 passes in every season other than his rookie one.
Johnson has done that even when teams have focused almost all of their energy on him and even when it became obvious how lacking the Lions were offensively in 2013 without him. During the two games Johnson was out of the lineup the Lions scored less than two touchdowns in each game, both losses.
So he sees Ebron, Tate, last season’s running backs -- Joique Bell and Reggie Bush -- and sees a lot of options other than him. That should also give Johnson more flexibility as he said the coaches asked him to learn every receiving position on the field, not just the two spots on the outside.
“They are going to make a lot of plays for us this year, a lot of explosive plays for us and get the ball down the field and increase our scoring chances,” Johnson said. “So yes, I’m going to be out there and make big plays but those guys are going to help us out a ton.”
Johnson hopes that help will help him reach the one place he hasn’t been often. For all the statistics he has and for all the accolades he has received, he has been to the playoffs only once in his career and, like the rest of the Lions, has zero playoff wins.
So even if the new weapons means a decrease in individual stats, he would be OK with that.
“Shoot, we should get more wins,” Johnson said. “That’s really all that counts. If we get more wins, I’m happy either way.”