ENTERING WEEK 15, Detroit boasted the NFL's No. 3 passing attack. While most of the credit goes directly to Johnson, little attention gets paid to the positive effects he's had on other offensive positions. This season the Lions' hallmark play has been a quick slant designed for Johnson; it's been especially effective on first down, when defenses must protect against both the run and the pass. Because no cornerback is big or speedy enough to gain immediate inside positioning against the wideout off the line of scrimmage, the key defender is the outside linebacker. If his first step is toward the line, Johnson's slant will be open; but if his first step is back, to double-team Johnson, then running back Reggie Bush (or Joique Bell) will be open on a swing pass underneath, into the space Johnson vacated. Thanks largely to this play the Lions are No. 2 in passing out of the backfield, with 496 yards.
This is an article from the Dec. 30, 2013 issue