For the better part of this entire decade, the Detroit Lions have been a pass-first, ask questions later type of team. With a next to non-existent rushing attack, the team has turned to their running game if conventionality called, but the Lions teams of yesteryear have rarely picked up the phone.
But with players like Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Golden Tate, and Marvin Jones Jr. lining up to catch passes from Matthew Stafford, it’s been hard to contend with the Lions’ plan to pass the football.
What also isn’t hard to argue is the case for this current group of wide receivers in Detroit to be considered among the best in the NFL. However, the normally good Danny Kelly of The Ringer made the executive decision to be more punishing than Matt Patricia’s practices, leaving the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay off the list of “The Top 10 Pass-Catching Groups in the NFL.”
The list is mostly good—just like the aforementioned Kelly—with all the right teams near the top of the list. As soon as Julio Jones shows up to Falcons practice, they’re absolutely one of, if not the best group of receivers in the NFL with the addition of Alabama‘s Calvin Ridley in this past draft. The Steelers still have Antonio Brown, the best receiver in the NFL, and a young and rising star in JuJu Smith-Schuster, so they’re most certainly a fixture on this list. And the Kansas City Chiefs will most certainly have one of the most potent aerial assaults with the addition of Sammy Watkins to fellow speedster Tyreek Hill, and the best tight end in the league not named Rob Gronkowski in Travis Kelce.
But there‘s a common theme amongst the teams included on Kelly‘s list, and that's the mention of “potential.” As he established his methodology in assembling this list, Kelly pointed out that while the Cleveland Browns receiving unit has “sky-high potential” they still have “much to prove.”
What do the duo of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones have left to do to prove they make up one of the best receiving tandems in the league? Jones is a bona fide deep threat, leading all receivers in yards per reception last season at 18.0 Y/R, and Tate has been as consistent as they come, catching 90-plus passes per season since joining the Lions, and forcing more missed tackles after the catch than any other receiver since 2013.
Marvin Jones was a big play threat on contested catches! pic.twitter.com/mP197cjuRy— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 11, 2018
And if Smith-Schuster showed flashes of promise last season and has the chance to be a “star,” so did Kenny Golladay in albeit limited opportunities. Golladay, who earned praise from Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar as one of the players in the NFL that deserve more hype this season, is certainly in line for a larger role in the offense come September, and should see a boost in his statistical production.
The Detroit Lions issued a formal statement from the team’s Twitter account which will certainly be the mantra of this Lions team until they finally put it all together:
Let 'em sleep pic.twitter.com/bjmfp7vSET— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 14, 2018