Stafford said last week on NFL A.M. that he thinks Johnson can break his own receiving yardage record in 2013. Last year, Johnson shattered Jerry Rice's older record in 15 games and came 36 yards shy of 2,000 yards in a single season.
"He thinks he can, which is all that matters." Stafford said. "That guy works harder than anybody I know, and he thinks he can get better, so I wouldn't put anything past him."
In the midst of all his great play last season, people forget that Johnson was also fighting a myriad of injuries. Concussion symptoms, broken fingers and nerve damage conspired to derail Johnson's bid to amaze in the record books, yet he pushed through and still managed to play well.
Should Johnson eclipse 2,000 yards in a season, one year after shattering a record which had lasted since 1995, it would be time to start considering him the best receiver ever. Rice has more Super Bowl rings, but he also had the benefit of a better team around him for his entire career. Should Johnson continue to take down Rice's records and others with sparse team results, it would be a far more impressive feat.
Being the best isn't about owning all the statistics or winning titles; difficulty level and perception along the way should count for something, too. Playoff success will help Johnson enter into this discussion in the minds of the nation, but for those who watch him closely every year, there's no question he's the best. The physical beating he takes is second to none, and often times' he's Detroit's only option offensively. Despite this, he still carries the load and manages to amaze in the process.
Considering the addition of Reggie Bush and the expected re-emergence of a healthy Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles, it would be even more impressive if Johnson continued on his record setting pace. This season, he's expected to have some of the same help Rice enjoyed in his career. If Johnson still enjoys eye popping individual success and the team shows much better as a whole, finally, Johnson might gain some of the national respect he so deserves.
Everyone knows Johnson is great, but it's time for him to start being considered the best by football's elitists. Breaking his own records in 2013 while enjoying more team success would be a good start to that.
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