If you didn't know his stats and based your expectations for what Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson did in 2012 solely on his team's record, all of the injuries he dealt with, all of the receivers who were lost for the season and the fact that he was on the cover of Madden NFL 13, I'm guessing they wouldn't be very high. Just based on those reasons alone, you might think Johnson had a down year.
Since you are aware of Johnson's stats, you know that he had anything but a down year. In fact, he didn't just have a career season, but he had a record-breaking season. Specifically, he broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record, and he nearly made it to 2,000 yards on the season. (He finished with 1,964 yards in 2012.)
Against all odds, Megatron was, well, Megatron. This is why he is my pick for the player who performed against all the odds this season. This is the focus of Gillette's latest "No Debate" question, and at least for the Lions, there really is no debate. Johnson overcame the following:
- The Lions going 4-12 and finishing with eight losses in a row
- Various injuries that kept him from even practicing some weeks
- Fellow wide receivers Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles and Titus Young ending up on injured reserve, leaving Johnson as really the only legitimate weapon in the passing game
- The supposed Madden cover jinx
You can talk all you want about garbage yards and stuff like that, but Johnson performed like one of the NFL's top players despite the rest of the team rarely even performing at an average level. What he simply did was impressive. Considering what was surrounding him throughout the season, his performance in 2012 really jumps to a whole other level of impressive.