Bears-Lions matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Oct. 07, 2011 @ 2:11 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Monday night's battle between the Bears and Lions.

Lions WR Calvin Johnson vs. Bears' secondary

Bears CB Charles Tillman didn't try to minimize the challenge he will face Monday night when he was asked about Johnson this week.

Tillman called Johnson "the Goliath of receivers," and that's really not much of an exaggeration. Johnson made two touchdown catches in each of the first four games this season, matching an NFL record for consecutive games with two TD catches, and he has an unmatched blend of size, speed and playmaking ability.

The Bears are highly unlikely to shut down the player that more and more people are calling the league's best receiver, especially if the coverage breakdowns that we've seen in recent weeks continue. Panthers WR Steve Smith burned the Bears for eight catches and 181 yards last week and the Bears' safeties are taking bad angles and too often get caught out of position.

Tillman (6-foot-2) has great size and length, and he has to utilize it to the fullest when he's matched up against Johnson, who is 6-foot-5 and towers over most defensive backs, which makes him particularly effective in the red zone when there's a jump ball.

The Bears' cover-2 defense is designed to keep players like Johnson from picking up yardage in huge chunks, but he's more than capable of beating the scheme.

Johnson is strong enough to beat a jam at the line of scrimmage, and he also can leave a corner in the dust if he gets a free release. The Bears' safeties have to be prepared to break quickly and make a tackle if the ball is thrown Johnson's way. If defensive backs don't wrap up Johnson, he'll get loose.

The best defense against a high-octane Detroit passing game Monday includes a great pass rush. A key for the Bears will be forcing QB Matthew Stafford to get rid of the ball before Johnson has time to finish off a deep route.

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