Brandon Carr watched it. He had no choice.
It was a horror show for the Dallas Cowboys cornerback.
Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys defensive coordinator last season, left Carr on an island with Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, against the Detroit Lions last year. Even as Johnson continued to catch deep ball after deep ball, Carr didn’t get help.
So, Carr was asked Friday, what was going through your head as you lived that game over again this week?
“I said, ‘Brandon, you’re pretty brave, and you have a lot of pride for playing with that game plan last year. Good job,’” Carr said.
Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards, the second-most receiving yards in a game in NFL history. The Cowboys, needless to say, will have a different game plan for Johnson this week.
“I think we’re going to be able to maybe give him more help than we did,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “And I feel like Brandon is a terrific corner, and he’s up for this challenge, but as a staff we’ve got to find ways to help him.”
Carr received the brunt of criticism after the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss, with Johnson finishing 8 yards short of the NFL record. But the game plan should have prompted the second-guessing.
Johnson arguably is the NFL’s best receiver.
“I would be hard-pressed to tell you what they did last year except throw it all around to Calvin Johnson,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick said.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 488 yards, yardage he hasn’t come close to in the 24 games since. Stafford, a Highland Park product, chuckled last week when asked if he expected it to be harder to get Johnson 329 yards Sunday.
Stafford said the Cowboys’ defense this season looks nothing like the Cowboys’ defense of last season.
“They’re all in the right spots all the time, it seems to me,” Stafford said. “They’re playing extremely physical up front and doing a great job of playing with a bunch of passion and getting after the passer and stopping the run on the way.”
Carr knew the inevitable questions he faced this week, prompting him playfully to post a sign in his locker of his son wearing a T-shirt that read: Call My Agent. He finally fulfilled his media obligation, leaving little doubt about his thoughts on last year’s game plan.
The Cowboys won’t ask him to do that again this year.
“A new year. We’ll do some different things this year,” Carr said.
Carr has no interceptions and 12 pass breakups this season. He has allowed 44 catches for 829 yards and five touchdowns, according to STATS. But the Cowboys point to his 58 tackles, seventh on the team, when they talk about his play.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Carr has become “a more physical tackler since he’s been here.” Marinelli seconded that.
“Sometimes he just has an ability to shut somebody down, and you don’t even kind of know it,” Marinelli said. “You look in the stat sheet, and that doesn’t tell everything about how he’s played. I’m telling you, the guy has really turned into a solid tackler. He’s around the ball a lot, so he’s just getting better and better every week and this is the time of year to do it.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760