Calvin Johnson Unintentionally Identified Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ Breakout Target for the 2021 Season

Legendary Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson wants the world to know about Van Jefferson.

If you’re unfamiliar with Jefferson, a former second-round pick, don’t worry. If Johnson gets his way, the league at large is going to know about the second-year receiver extremely soon.

Calvin Johnson has a close relationship with Van Jefferson’s father

NFL receivers Calvin Johnson (L) and Van Jefferson.
Calvin Johnson (L) shouted out Rams receiver Van Jefferson on a podcast. Could Jefferson have a major year in 2021? | Dave Reginek/Getty Images; Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Don’t be surprised to see Johnson hop on the Los Angeles Rams bandwagon this season, although he’d be doing so for a reason.

In a recent appearance on The Hook podcast, Johnson discussed his relationship with new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, his former teammate on the Lions. The former All-Pro receiver said he is rooting for Stafford, who the Lions traded to the Rams earlier this year, and the two still have a strong relationship.

However, Johnson has his eyes on another player on the Rams’ offense who has ties to the Lions.

“Plus, on top of that, we’ve got a friend out there in Van Jefferson. Shawn Jefferson, he was my receivers coach in Detroit for a long time. His son’s playing with Matthew now, so that’s pretty cool.”

Calvin Johnson

Shawn Jefferson, who coached Johnson on the Lions from 2007 through 2012, is now the Arizona Cardinals’ receivers coach.

Johnson unintentionally suggested Jefferson as a possible breakout candidate

The Los Angeles Rams are stockpiling receivers and providing Stafford with no shortage of weapons. However, Johnson unintentionally planted the seed that Jefferson could stand above most of the pack in his second NFL season.

In 16 games off the bench as a rookie, Jefferson hauled in 19 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown. He added six receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown in two postseason games. He stands to improve on all of those numbers in his second professional season.

It is worth noting that Johnson never explicity said Jefferson would have a breakout season for the Rams. However, the newest Pro Football Hall of Famer sounds excited about what his former coach’s son can do with Stafford as his quarterback.

A simple acknowledgment of someone’s presence often speaks far more volumes than intended. Now, solely by Johnson recognizing Jefferson on the podcast, football fans may have more incentive to pay attention to the younger receiver’s progress, especially ahead of fantasy football drafts.

Is Jefferson in for a breakout sophomore season?

The only thing stopping Jefferson from enjoying a legitimate breakout season is the players ahead of him. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods return as starters, and the Rams signed controversial speedster DeSean Jackson this offseason.

If Jefferson can beat out Jackson and Tutu Atwell for the No. 3 receiver spot, he can certainly factor into the Rams’ offense. Don’t be surprised to see Sean McVay truly embrace a pass-heavy scheme that will utilize Stafford’s arm strength and experience.

Jefferson dazzled with his speed in college and showed impressive route-running abilities as a rookie. Those traits can easily make him a dangerous weapon in a Stafford-led offense.

With that said, Jefferson likely isn’t going to start posting Johnson’s season averages of 81 catches, 1,1291 yards, and nine touchdowns anytime soon. But Johnson at least planted the seeds to consider Jefferson as a potential breakout candidate for the season ahead.

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