2019 has proven to be a lost season for the Detroit Lions. Even before Matthew Stafford went down with a back injury the Lions were 3-4-1 and three games out of the wild card race. While the team no longer has an opportunity to earn any accolades this season, individual players have a chance to make their mark.
Stafford had a chance to earn his second 5,000 passing yard season and was even a dark horse to earn a few MVP votes this season. A Pro Bowl could have even been on the horizon.
The injury to Detroit’s quarterback has not only hurt his chance at personal achievement, but that of the players around him as well. Most notably, wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay.
Through Week 11, the receivers are both tied with D.J. Chark of the Jacksonville Jaguars for the NFL lead in touchdown catches with eight on the season. Two receivers from the same team topping the list isn’t unprecedented, but it speaks well to how great the passing offense has been with Stafford at the helm.
Their yardage counts for both are great as well. In the first eight games of the year—the ones where Stafford played—Golladay was on pace for 1,280 yards. The number would have been a career high and the total would place him at 10th among NFL wide receivers in 2018.
Jones Jr. would be a step behind his partner—he was on pace for 1,070 yards in 2019 before Stafford went down.
Assuming the Lions offense managed to keep pace under Stafford, the team would have multiple 1,000-yard receivers on the same team. A rarity, but also something the team previously achieved when Golden Tate was on the roster.
While the Lions’ losing record and the wealth of great receivers currently in the NFL would mean that both would be destined to miss out on All Pro-honors—which Golladay especially deserves this season—both seemed like locks to find their way into the Pro Bowl. For both receivers, it would be their first Pro Bowl honor. And for a team struggling as much as Detroit this year, the pair of receivers may have been the only chance for the Motor City to be represented in the NFL’s all-star game this January.
As of now, neither Jones nor Golladay are in the top 10 in fan voting for the 2020 Pro Bowl.
They still have a chance to make it, though. While the offense may not be anywhere near where it previously was now that Jeff Driskel is at the helm, they both are already at eight touchdown catches a piece, and both are within 350 yards of an 1,000-yard season. While both hitting that mark seems unlikely, there may be enough to go around for at least one of them to put up big box score numbers this season.
While it does not truly matter in the long run, two of the Lions’ stars have most likely missed out on chances to earn career honors which have previously evaded them.