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Notes: Calvin Johnson’s retirement killed the NFL goal-line fade

The fade sucks with no Megatron.

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Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images


If you’re like me, that’s probably something you screamed at the television at least once from the years 2007 to 2015.

Calvin Johnson was an NFL cheat code, and one of the easiest plays for him was the goal-line fade, or the “jump ball” in the end zone. Johnson’s freakish stature—6-foot-5—combined with excellent hands made it one of the easier plays for the Lions to score on when near the goal line.

Johnson holds a distinction when it comes to the goal-line fade. According to a Pro Football Focus article from 2018, among receivers who have seen at least 10 attempted fade routes since 2013, only Johnson caught more than half. The average was just 33 percent.

And according to an interesting article this week from ESPN’s Mina Kimes, the league is pretty much starting to give up on the goal-line fade since Johnson’s retirement in 2016.

51 were attempted in 2017, 42 the following year, and just 37 goal-line fades were attempted last season.

And it’s easy to see why: the play has become terribly inefficent. Here are the success rates, according to Kimes’ article:

2017-18: 30%
2019: 13.5%

Kimes got Johnson’s reaction to only 13.5 percent—five attempts—resulting in a catch.

“I’m sorry, only five were caught?” Johnson said. “Maybe somebody could use me ... just post me up.”

Relax, Megatron4Eva1957, he was joking.

Check out the entire article on how the “least efficient passing play” is slowly disappearing from the game.

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  • A little self-promotion to end my week of Notes. I joined the Locked on Lions podcast on Tuesday, which you can listen to here. I come in around the 9:45 mark.

I was also part of the Detroit Sports Room roundtable Tuesday night to talk about COVID-19, Sheila Ford Hamp and whether the Lions’ roster is improved from last year:

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