The secret weapon for the Detroit Lions

As a struggling team like Detroit is still trying to get their footing as to who or what their team is. They need to find that spark that can ignite some semblance of a fire to their team. A team that has the right WR can make up for many potential flaws the team may have on other sides – and it can give the team a star on their roster. Truthfully, getting the right WR can take a team from great to lethal. The NFL has become so focused on the aerial game, so the amount of importance at the WR position is vital.
And, as always, many talented players – have gone overlooked and unappreciated by fans and even by the mainstream NFL “experts.”
The first 3 seasons of Marvin Jones’s career had been ok, but they didn’t blow anyone away – mostly due to some “other guy” named
A.J. Green – but when he was finally able to get his opportunity with Detroit – he has exploded with the WR talent that makes the Lions very excited and thrilled to have him catching balls for them.
Detroit has had a slight problem with cultivating WR talent – and haven’t really had a player perform at a great level for them since Calvin Johnson. But it is looking like that disappointing trend is on the quick path to change. Jones has been nothing but excellent for the Lions, with awesome numbers of 16.9 and 18.0 YPC since 2016 – it is hard to argue the WR ability to move the ball downfield. Since Marvin joined the Lions in 2016 – he and Golden Tate had been one of the top WR duos, with 369 receptions and over 5000 receiving yards between them from 2016-2018. A dangerous combination, that had worked for the Lions for the last 2 seasons. But now Tate has been dealt, which leaves a huge opportunity available. Jones matches up well against top DBs and gets open, with “target magnet” Tate gone – leaves more balls for Jones.
Watching Marvin Jones work against Pittsburgh or Minnesota in 2017, was incredible – when he helped to torch their top ranked secondaries for 128 and 109 YDs in those games. And racking up 6 of his 9 TDs in 2017, vs the NFC North division, with top ranking secondary players like Xavier Rhodes and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – was certainly not too shabby.
Players like Jarvis Landry, and Alshon Jeffery have gotten rave reviews, and all the adoration that comes with being a great WR, even TEs get love, but Jones – there just hasn’t been very much about him and his pass catching skills. Marvin Jones has hung numbers up better numbers to Jarvis in the TD:target ratio, and similar numbers to Jeffery in the receptions category. In 31 previous games with Detroit – he has compiled a seasonal average of 105 targets, 58 receptions, 1066 receiving yards and 6.5 receiving touchdowns. In 43 games with the Bengals, from 2012-2015, his numbers were solid – but with only 1 season getting 100 or more targets. If he was able to gobble up another 3-4 targets/game, I firmly believe Jones would be a steady 1200 YD, 10-11 TD WR, year in and year out. Which would put him around the top 5 in the NFL, along with the other top players, so it is shown, again, his WR level is more than just decent – it is excellent. And now Jones has a legit chance to eat up more targets with Tate gone.
Marvin has not had the great pleasure of playing with a monstrous QB, like Brees or Brady either. Playing with Andy Dalton was ok – but he isn’t one of the best QBs in the NFL either. A QB with the numbers that Dalton has put up, and his shakiness when the chips are down, doesn’t exactly make anyone quake in their cleats in fear. Finally, getting to play with 4000 yard passer, Matthew Stafford is a great and fantastic opportunity for the 7 year player, and he has exploited it.
Marvin is an excellent offensive threat that when he lines up, going up against your team – he is always potentially a moment away from busting off a huge game changing play. With 20 catches of 20+ yards in 2017 and another 16 big plays in 2016 – he has repeatedly shown the breakaway ability on the field as well.  This year so far, Jones has put up 387 yards, for a 15 YPC avg, and added a team leading 5 receiving TDs to the team. If they would take advantage more of his speed and height a bit more, Stafford and Jones could be a lethal combination.
It is time for some respect for Marvin Jones and to be recognized for what he is – A weapon.

Top 5 receiving crews heading into the 2018 NFL season

As we know, the game has gone in the direction of being a QB league, with QBs putting up insane passing yards, that are mind-boggling. Changes always come around, and we are living through a very explosive offensive game these days. QB receiver connections are critical. This is indeed a hard time for DBs – to see if they can try to avoid getting twisted around on a crossing route or getting “too handsy” and giving up stupid penalties when trying to keep these teams under control with their deadly receiving combinations they will throw at them.
Some teams made some huge and exciting changes, adding great players, and on paper, look to have all the right pieces. But, there are always some trepidations, a few of the other potentially lethal receiving corps are;
The Cleveland Browns
With signing WR Jarvis Landry, and Dez Bryant, they added other talented players who get to work with exceptionally talented, but oft-troubled, Josh Gordon, the team could have a wicked receiving crew.
The Los Angeles Rams
Adding perennial open fielder, Brandin Cooks, who comes off a 16.6 YD/catch season with Robert Woods and excellent route runner, Cooper Kupp is going to be interesting.
The Green Bay Packers
Underrated WR Davante Adams just had another 10 TD season, add in a still dangerous, Jimmy Graham, and his 10 TD potential, with “perfect WR3” Randall Cobb, and his spot as the short option for future HoF’er, Aaron Rodgers…it could easily be a 35+ TD season for ARod.
But, they didn’t make the top 5.
So with that said, here we go to the teams that will, without a doubt, be your top 5…
5. Detroit Lions
With an excellent combined YDs / catch at 15.3 ypc with 2 of their top 3 receivers who can move the chains fast, in Marvin Jones Jr and Kenny Golladay – but Golladay is still just a 1 route guy, Golden Tate is a magnificent slot WR. Tate doesn’t have a dual real threat at TE across the middle, Stafford seems like he just throws the ball in his direction, and expects him to make the play. But they just keep giving steady results.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
With Big Ben firing the ball around, it makes some things better for these guys. The TE position is very weak but they have a real nice thing going with their WRs, and are led by their strong and very skilled WRs. We start with the best WR in the NFL, Antonio Brown, who is a yard producer, and TD producer, 21 year old JuJu Smith-Schuster brings big play ability and yard production. We all know AB is going to be dominant, regardless if he is double teamed or not. He is the best route runner, and to be honest, there is nothing he cannot do on the field. With AB on the other side, the sky is the limit for JuJu Smith-Schuster to get even better.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Case Keenum led this team at QB in 2017 with 22 TD passes. Let that sink in for a few brief moments. Between these three, they tallied 17 TDs between these guys, accounting for 77% of his 22 TD passes, in games he was throwing the ball. A career journeyman QB was better because of their outstanding WR play. They also have the benefit with experienced youth on their side. Target magnet, Adam Thielen, is only 27 , Stefon Diggs is 24, and the oldest guy, Kyle Rudolph, is 28. Adam and Diggs will return to their WRA, and WRA2 form and show why they are one of the best WR tandems to deal with. They can dominate secondaries in every aspect of the game. Now with 27+TD/year QB, Kirk Cousins throwing the ball, teams better be very careful, when they pick their poison.
2. New York Giants
Massive yardage ready to go.
Truly ridiculous skills here with this crew of receivers, with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. TE Evan Engram is on brink of being next bigtime TE. Firstly, we have to remember, OBJ one of the best WR in league, with 3 seasons of 1300 or more YDs, and 12 TDs/year average when healthy. Sterling Shepard is a great pass catcher, and route runner out of the slot, as he showed when had 8 TDs when OBJ was outside of him in 2016. Evan Engram is a 240 lb TE with incredible athleticism and unique way of exploding to the middle of the field, and he finds the end zone. And with Beckham getting back to the field, the Giants wont have to heavily rely on the younger guys as much, which is scary.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Here is the big shocker for the list.
This squad is led by ultra speed demon, Tyreek Hill, who lit up defenders for 15.8 YPC, and 1183 yards, including 9 games of averaging 17 ypc or more. Their TE, Travis Kelce, is the best TE in the league now, can we all just admit this yet? Gronk is no longer exclusively “the TE” – Travis Kelce has replaced him. Sammy Watkins and his instinctive nose for the end zone was shown in spades when playing for the Rams last year, with no other top notch WR to take eyes off of him. Now, in KC, Sammy Watkins will be able to move around a little more freely, with Tyreek Hill taking the top off things, which is absolutely going to be terrifying for DBs. Because Sammy isnt a slow WR, by any means, with career YPC numbers of 15.9 – he also generates serious speed. Hill has already shown that he can be a top weapon as he had 1183 yards last year with career “game manager” Alex Smith throwing to him. It will be huge for Mahomes’ development to be able to throw the ball to these guys in 2018. So expect big things from Hill and this crew this NFL Football season

What is holding the Detroit Lions from getting to the next level?

Megatron

 

It is time for the Detroit Lions to finally make that move forward. Arming themselves with a new play-toy for Matthew Stafford, and possibly a missing puzzle piece at WR with former Seahawk WR Golden Tate, who has shown all year, he has the ability to make big plays. And then picking up a very talented TE in the 1st rd with Eric Ebron, out of North Carolina. I feel that Matthew Stafford can eventually make Eric Ebron a star.
As long as he continues to find ways to successfully get the ball to sticky hands Golden Tate, taking some heat off of Calvin Johnson, they just keep adding the pieces around him. Now mind you, many had questioned the grab of Ebron, which threw a curve-ball to many fans early this year in the draft. In a draft full of great potential defensive talent, the Lions stayed true to who they are, a scoring machine, and picked him up 10th overall. I cannot help but feel some teams may look back in awe, asking how some of the guys fell so low. And the Lions, a team that was, at that time, in dire defensive need, especially in the secondary, went with Ebron. And thus far, he has been nothing better than acceptable ( 16 catches and 1 TD), he’s not a top 5 target guy on the team, but the team is stacked with talent offensively, so he needs some time to find his spot.

Although adding Ebron and the “mega-presence” of Megatron, signing of Golden Tate and the strong and possibly overlooked RB combo for the Lions, with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, The Lions seriously have as much talent at the skill positions as anyone of the top teams. At this point they have to be able to get to the next level.

They showed they could bounce back, and did just that in 2011 when they won 10 games and came in 2nd to the 15 win Packers in the NFC North. But they have struggled with playing up to how most expect them to play at. During a season, when they could have closed the door and won 11 games, they instead, folded like a lawn chair. After last season, when they had everything laid out before them, as they should have had a NFC North locked up with all of its divisional problems, they blew it, finishing at a lousy 7-9. Failing, with other divisional North teams, the Packers and Bears losing their starting QBs for a total of 12 games between them. This year things are looking better.

One problem has been Matthew Stafford and his confidence seemingly in anyone not named Calvin Johnson. Stafford needs to keep believing in the rest of his receiving corps. Stafford threw 19 INTs in 2013, which landed him 5th most in the league. His 29 TD passes were great, and his 291 YPG avg. But his forcing balls when he doesn’t need to, has to get under control. Something he seems to have had this year, finally.

Last year Calvin has had games where as the WR1 he was targeted 5-6 times more than the WR2, Kris Durham. I understand, that with Calvin as your WR1, you’re going to get him looks, but there is no reason to forget about other guys, keep the defense honest. Including once 83 ball catcher, TE Brandon Pettigrew, who was considered to be a potential next decent TE in the league, only averaged 3 targets a game in 2013, and finished with just 2 TDs. And less then 450 YDs receiving.

After 5 years, it’s now time for Matthew Stafford to bring it to the next level. Stop throwing the late game costly picks, stop forcing the ball when it doesn’t need to be forced into the tight triple coverages. Find the check down, use your whole team, there is a ton of talent on paper there, find out what they can do.

Predictable play calling was a crutch that the Lions had, seemingly, when all else failed, throw the ball to Calvin. Obviously Johnson did everything he could, because as their best weapon, he could get constant separation. Scoring was never a problem for Detroit, dropping 25 a game last year, and only 2 times scoring less than 16. Stopping the other team from scoring was, all year long. Now this year, offensively they are scoring just 18 /game but only giving up 17.

As well as the fact that the Lions were unable to ever get a strong consistent ground attack, only running the ball for 1792 YDs last year, and just 5 games with 120 or more on the ground. As bad as the defense as well, gets a rap on, during the last 7 games in 2013, the Lions only gave up 17 ppg, taking away pick 6’s and fumble returns for TDs, the on-field defense wasn’t terrible. They ended 1-6, during that stretch, where Stafford also was inconsistent during that time as well. They oddly enough stumbled down the home stretch in 2013 because of their offense. In the Lions’ last 3 losses the on-field defense allowed only 2 TDs.

Bottom line is, Stafford and his turnovers, 15 so far, this season. Once he gets that fixed, and the young defense continues to make improvements, they can win 10 games and make some possible noise in the playoffs. But if Stafford goes back to throwing bad picks and fumbling the ball, that’s not going to happen. Matthew Stafford has always had a straight forward plan of attack, his pass selection has gotten him in trouble his whole career, as it has this year as well. He can’t be costing them opportunities anymore to win games.

They have what it takes to make a run at the playoffs, without question. They are armed with unquestionably, when healthy, the best WR in the NFL, and an upgraded young defense that has played much better this year, by far, than their play in 2013. The defense seems to have learned how to control themselves, hopefully for Lions fans, Kris Kocurek, the defensive line coach, can keep the feisty group of Lions to stop with hot head, dumb penalties, and play football the right way.

The Lions had seemingly found ways to lose when the chips were down before. Matthew Stafford would throw 3 interceptions one game, Calvin Johnson would suddenly drop passes, and fumbles would be picked up and returned for a TD. Everyone’s always known how to beat the Lions, you score more points than they can.

This year they have been making that a bit more difficult, stuffing the run well, and even with their pass coverage. This could be a very nasty team for the rest of the year. The NFC North got a whole lot more interesting.

How much have the Detroit Lions improved with their signing former Seahawks WR Golden Tate?

detroit-lions

Many of the average Seahawk fans may have not even known who Golden Tate was when he came on the scene in 2010, but after a 64 catch, 898 YD and 5 TD season. Leading the team in every one of those categories, now I think they know who is is, pretty well. With the free agency mish mash gone crazy, this signing was a great unpredicted snag for the Detroit Lions. He brings in versatility and speed to be a sensational 2nd option to Calvin Johnson.

When Percy Harvin came back, and looked as if he was ready again to be the main guy for Seattle this decidedly made him expendable on the team. Which makes me question what their plans are for their passing attack now?

Some may feel that Tate is an unestablished player, with just 165 catches in his first 4 seasons with the Hawks, and no 1000 YD seasons, but keep in mind, Seattle is a run first team, behind Marshawn Lynch that doesn’t throw the ball much. They only attempted 25 pass attempts a game last year, with a QB who also is quick to bolt from the pocket. So with that in mind, how is it achievable for Tate to rack up a load of yards receiving? Tate is a play maker. and what he brings to the Lions will be a quality to be a Percy Harvin-esque style. With his impressive hands, he catches everything thrown in his direction. This was without a doubt a good signing. He will be a powerful WR2 that will give the team a great player for many sets. He’s strong and physical, and is be able to get separation.

Granted, maybe the Lions could have looked at other options for free agency pick ups, maybe some help on a defense that allowed 24, or an offensive lineman, to help Stafford have a little more time to get off uncontested throws. So it does seem, the Lions are looking to really work teams secondaries, yet again this season. And they have the weapons to do it. This was a very canny move, looking to take advantage of CBs, especially in the NFC North. Between him and Calvin Johnson, they could perhaps have one of the most high-octane WR duos in the league. With Reggie Bush getting 54 catches out of the backfield, this team is becoming even more of an offensive force than ever.

He will only get better with time, and now with a big armed QB like Stafford I expect him to evolve rather fast. The Lions will be a better team for making this move, guaranteed. There is potential for Megatron and Tate to combine for 20 TDs. Tate will really prosper in that pass heavy offense that chucks the ball 40 times a game. Tate can play on the outside and in the slot, which makes him a legit threat, as well as his elusive punt return ability where he picked up 11.5 YDs per return.

Think of how much this could possibly help Megatron as well even, Tate running everything across the middle, Johnson taking the tops off defenses, safeties following him all over the field, will get Tate even that many more looks. Detroit made themselves a great move with this, and anyone who thinks this is a bad move does not how good Golden Tate has the potential to be.

Written by TonyK of VegasTopDogs.com