NFL wide receivers that should have been league MVP: 1. Calvin Johnson, 2012
Better than any other season was the performance Calvin Johnson put on in the 2012 season. Mix in the fact that he played for the Detroit Lions, a team with a history of falling well below expectations, and the fact that he didn’t have one of the top three quarterbacks in the league, yet he still broke the record for receiving yards, and you have yourself a performance that’s deserving of MVP votes.
Johnson had 1,964 yards in 2012. It’s a number that might fall now that there are 17 games in the season, but without it, this would likely not happen. So many people tried to talk down to Johnson’s magical season. It wasn’t a great season for the Lions in general, leading to people making claims of garbage time yards. When looking at when Johnson was making his plays, that’s clearly not true. He also only had five touchdowns, but that was because teams went all out to stop him at the goal line, and there is only so much room there. They can’t stop him in between the hash marks, but if there are four guys on Johnson near the end zone, well you be the judge.
And that’s precisely why Johnson deserves to be in this spot. He was doing all this when the Lions had nothing else. He was the Barry Sanders of this era, just in a different position. He did the most with nothing. He led a Lions franchise as high as it could possibly go all by himself.
Jahvid Best, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, and Brandon Pettigrew were the other skill players on the Lions that season. That’s… bad. Yet, Johnson was consistently able to beat everyone. He was a freak when it came to size and strength, and he could catch everything near him. This was deserving of MVP consideration because he was THE most valuable player in the league. The Lions record hurts the argument a little bit, but Johnson transcends that.