There's no better PR agent for a football team than the coach of next week's opponent.
Somewhere along the line, every coach figures out that making the opposition out to be the second coming of Genghis Khan's hordes makes them look very good if they win on Sunday. It also takes a little sting out of losing. Coaches can do this against anyone, just dig up anything Lou Holtz ever said about a winless team going to South Bend for a payday, but sometimes they actually have some real fodder at their disposal.
Jason Garrett has such fodder this week. Calvin Johnson is the kind of wide receiver that challenges the bounds of hyperbole because there's not much he can't do on the field. He's huge, he's fast and he has great hands so now that Matthew Stafford is throwing to him, he's damned near unstoppable. Garrett agrees with that sentiment.
"Calvin Johnson is arguably the best player in the National Football League," Garrett said. "He’s bigger than everybody else. He jumps up and catches the ball over his head. He runs with it after the catch. He does all the big things and little things well. It will be a tremendous challenge."
Can the Cowboys live up to the challenge? Both of their cornerbacks are dealing with injuries and both Mike Jenkins and Terrence Newman would be at a serious disadvantage even if they were totally healthy. Johnson has caught two touchdowns in every game this season, a number that makes you wonder just what the Cowboys can do to stop him if the Lions get near the end zone.
The answer will have to come from players other than the cornerbacks. The safeties will play a role, adding double coverage and trying to move into spots late enough that Stafford doesn't see them there to disrupt the throw. It won't end there, however.
The easiest way for the Cowboys to stop Johnson is going to be pressuring Stafford to the point that he makes bad throws. DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and the rest of the front seven needs to come up with a mighty effort against a Lions line that has looked shaky to this point in the season. Rob Ryan will need to dial up a variety of looks and blitzes that keep Stafford from getting comfortable and the Cowboys will need to force the Lions into long passing situations by shutting down the run.
If they do all that, they have a fair chance of keeping Megatron under wraps. Shutting him down is a longshot, but minimizing the damage he does is certainly possible. And it will be necessary if the Cowboys are going to hand Detroit their first loss of the season.