About a year ago, the Detroit Lions made the tough decision to divorce themselves from tight end Eric Ebron. It was the end of an ugly era that saw fans turn on the former first-round pick after Ebron’s inconsistent play and confrontational attitude towards critical fans reached a breaking point. In the end, the Lions didn’t think Ebron was worth the $8.25 million he was due to make, as general manager Bob Quinn called the move strictly a “financial decision.”
Ebron responded by going to the Colts and setting a career high in yards (750) and setting the Colts’ record for single-season touchdowns from a tight end (13).
The former Lions tight end has remained relatively quiet about his time in Detroit since landing in Indy, typically choosing to decline comment on the Lions organization or only taking very, very subtle jabs(?) at Detroit.
However, last week at the Super Bowl, Ebron spoke with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, and recalled about his time in Detroit. He was still very reserved and careful with his words, often prefacing an answer with “I’m not going to downplay the organization” or “I’m not going to take anything away from Stafford,” but he did have one thing he was very clearly unhappy with during his time with the Lions: His lack of red zone usage.
“I used to beg for it,” he said. “I begged everybody. Everybody. A lot of people knew it, but it is what it is.”
According to NFLsavant.com, Ebron received 6, 8, 9 and 12 red zone targets in his four years in Detroit. In one season with the Colts, Ebron saw 22 red zone targets come his way, five more than any other player on Indy. His 13 touchdowns led all NFL tight ends and was second only to Antonio Brown among all receivers.
Ebron suggested this was a microcosm of a bigger problem in Detroit: their inability to hear and understand their players’ needs.
“Just listen to their players,” Ebron offered as advice to the Lions. “They’ll understand exactly what I mean, at least the players will understand what I mean. Just listen to the players, man. The players play, and if there’s some things that can help their game, do it.”
Obviously, since Ebron has left, the Detroit Lions have changed nearly all of their offensive coaching staff. However, it’s unclear if his advice is directed towards them or management. Either way, this offers at least a little background on how things devolved with Ebron so quickly.