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Bill Belichick on Calvin Johnson: The Real Shaq daddy of receivers

11.24.10 at 11:49 am ET

FOXBORO — Who says Bill Belichick is only focused on football from July to January?

This week, he dropped a little NBA analogy on everyone when he was asked how difficult it is to cover Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, someone the Patriots corners and safeties will have plenty of eyes on come Thursday.

“He’€™s never covered. He’€™s never covered,” Belichick raved. “The play against Green Bay [Oct. 3], there’€™s 10 seconds left to go in the [first] half, [Charles] Woodson‘€™s on him, the safety’€™s over the top, they throw it up to him, he goes up for a touchdown and gets it. I mean, it looks like Shaquille O’€™Neal going up for a rebound against two point guards.”

When Belichick wants to really make a point, he repeats it time and time again. He did exactly that with Johnson, who leads the Lions with 55 catches, 725 yards and the entire NFC with 10 TDs. He trails only Dwayne Bowe, who has 11 for Kansas City.

“He’€™s never covered. He’€™s never covered,” he said again. “There’€™s always an opportunity somewhere. He’€™s got such a great catching radius. He’€™s so big that he can catch the ball in such a wide amount of space that if the quarterback puts it where the defender can’€™t reach it, then this guy’€™s got great hands, he’€™s got tremendous ball skills. Yeah, I would say, he’€™s definitely not covered even when he’€™s covered. You got to worry about it. And they have a lot of confidence in him and they should. They throw some balls to him that you look at and say, ‘€˜Wow, that’€™s pretty tight coverage. I don’€™t know if he should be throwing it there.’€™ Then he comes up with the catch and you understand why ‘€“ I don’€™t want to say the ball is being forced in there ‘€“ but it’€™s tight coverage, but it isn’€™t good enough because he’€™s got really good ball skills and he’€™s a big target. He’€™s an impressive player.”

So, considering Belichick has coached Randy Moss, the question was posed does Johnson remind him of Moss and Brandon Marshall?

“I would say [he’€™s] more similar to Marshall than Moss,” Belichick answered.

Not Moss?

“I would say they are totally different players,” Belichick said. “How are they the same? They’€™re both tall.

The Patriots corners have gone up against Moss in practice so that helps to some degree, according to Belichick.

“We benefit from practicing against everybody,” Belichick said. “We have a good group of receivers and we have a good group of defensive backs and those guys compete against each other every day. You cover different types of players and, as a receiver, you go against different types of corners. Some guys are faster. Some guys are quicker. Some guys are more physical. Some guys are more instinctive. Some play techniques a little differently.

“That’€™s the great thing about training camp and about doing one-on-one drills. Whether it’€™s pass protection, pass rush, or one-on-one pass coverage or pass defense, you match up against different types of players and, ultimately, over the course of a year, you will see players like that, sooner or later: big receivers, short receivers, fast receivers, quick receivers, receivers that run real good routes, receivers that use their speed to try and get open, receivers that are real physical and knock you around, you see all that over the course of a year. So, you definitely benefit from practicing against different players and players with different skill sets.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Calvin Johnson, detroit lions



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