Will Eagles “D” Focus On Double-Teaming Calvin Johnson?BREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News Thursday, October 11th, 2012
In the Cardinals game their test involved Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The first part of the test was how exactly to cover him. Do you focus on him and keep him double teamed from the time he comes out of the locker room, to the time he’s getting on the team’s charter on the way back to Detroit?
Or do you treat him just like any other receiver but try to keep track of where he’s lining up? The Eagles defensive coached vacillated back and forth about whether or not to have Nmandi Asomugha follow Fitzgerald everywhere he went and double team him with a safety deep.
They decided not to go that way but to just play their normal coverages, treat Fitzgerald like any other receiver, except make sure everyone knew where he was lining up. It proved to be a costly mistake as the Eagles secondary lost track of Ftizgerald, as he destroyed the Birds in the first half, catching seven passes for over 100 yards, while the Cards were building a big lead of 24-3 at the half.
Will they make the same mistake this week against the Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has a very distinguished nickname. “When they give you the nickname ‘Megatron,’”Andy Reid said, “that means you’re pretty good.”
“He can run. He can jump,”, Eagles defensive coordinator said. ”Stafford will throw it to him even if he is double-teamed.”
“Normally, people are looking to cover him up with a couple of people,” Reid said. “He’s earned that respect. That’s what teams have done. That doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do. That’s what teams are trying to do, and that’s been going on, not just this year, but for a while.
Regardless of how the Birds decide to cover Johnson, they must make sure every player in coverage knows where he’s lining up. He’s is definitely a favorite target of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“They try different ways to get him open and get him the football”, Reid said. ”They move him all over. They do. They move him in the middle of trips, inside of trips, inside on the double-wing side. They try and expose as much as possible.”
Rookie nickel back Brandon Boykin could get the chance to cover Johnson, since he lines up all over the place. Boykin is a personal friend of Johnson, so he has a good idea of what Johnson brings to the table.
“You use your technique and try to be fundamentally sound,” said Boykin, who joked that he’s actually 5-foot-10, not 5-foot-9 as listed in the media guide. “Those are things you can’t change, your genetic makeup. The corners that will guard him, they’ll have to do what they have to do to guard him. It can be done, but it won’t be easy.”
I don’t like the idea of having the 6′ 5″ Johnson matched up against the 5’9″ Boykin. There’s no way the rookie has any chance of covering the Pro Bowl wide receiver.
My advice to Eagles is to double-team Johnson on every play with either Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Nmandi Asomugha. I want them to mix it with the coverages, but they must always double-team Johnson. It’s very important that they focus on him even more in the red zone. He can’t be handled by one defender.
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