Green Bay, Wis. — It was hard to tell what Lions coach Jim Schwartz’s motives were. Clearly he didn’t want to use the absence of Calvin Johnson as an excuse for the 22-9 loss Sunday.
But there weren’t too many people buying what he was selling.
“Calvin wasn’t one of our 46 (active players) today,” he said. “You can’t say he affected the outcome, he wasn’t one of the guys on the field. We had 46 guys on the field and those were the guys that affected the outcome of the game.”
Not having Johnson is the equivalent of the Tigers not having a healthy Miguel Cabrera in the middle of their lineup. Everybody is impacted.
“It definitely changes their offense,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s a dynamic player, one of the top five players in the league and not having him out there definitely helped our cause.”
The Packers didn’t double-team a single receiver. They were able to roll an extra defender, usually a safety, up to the line of scrimmage. They were able to tilt their defense to stop running back Reggie Bush, which they did.
“Our game plan didn’t change too much,” said Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, who had nine tackles. “We game plan for schemes and not one particular player. Not to take anything away from him — I am not trying to do that. But for us, it’s about what their concepts are and how they are going to attack you.”
Clearly, without a deep threat like Johnson, the Lions’ offensive concepts are lot easier to attack.
“Yeah, they might attack you a little bit differently without him in the game, maybe not go deep as often,” Hawk said. “But we just made tiny adjustments.”
Cornerback Tramon Williams put it best.
“Obviously, I think everyone felt that (Johnson’s) presence wasn’t there on the field,” he said. “We know we’ll see him next time. But at the end of the day, we still had to go out and do what we planned to do — and that was to get the win.”