Can the finest receiver on Planet Earth get any better?
Asked on Thursday's edition of NFL Network's "NFL AM" if Calvin Johnson can eclipse his 1,964 yards from a season ago, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford -- fresh off signing his three-year, $53 million contract extension -- gave the green light.
"I mean, 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. He's a guy that can obviously run all the routes, inside, outside, make all the catches, and is a smart football player and a really good teammate."
Consider that Johnson came within 36 yards of the 2,000-yard barrier while playing with multiple broken fingers. Along the way, he shattered Jerry Rice's single-season NFL record. Megatron's five touchdown catches were a drop-off from his 16 in 2011, but he was tackled eight times inside the 5-yard line in 2012, including five times at the 1, according to ESPN.com.
One factor bound to slow Johnson's potential onslaught of production is a shift in the Lions' offense. Stafford acknowledged to NFL Network that throwing the ball 727 times a season isn't necessarily a recipe for success, saying, "We've got to find a way to be more explosive in the run game and more balanced as well."
We're not in the business of doubting Megatron, but it's unlikely he'll top his yardage output from one season ago. He was the Lions' only option on a team riddled with injured receivers. The Reggie Bush signing will take away catches, and the Lions want to see Ryan Broyles emerge. If Johnson's numbers decrease, it's an indicator this offense is achieving some long-lost balance.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.