Statistically speaking, the Detroit Lions have one of the best pass catchers in the NFL, even though it’s not the first name you might be thinking of.
Recently, Nick Shook took a closer look at NFL.com with the help of some advanced stats from Next Gen Stats in order to determine the top wide receivers in football. Detroit’s Marvin Jones placed within the top 5, claiming the No. 4 spot on Shook’s list. That placed him ahead of names like Calvin Ridley and Amari Cooper.
As it relates to why, Shook admitted in the writeup that it has everything to do with not only his skill, but his ability to grow within an offense that’s set to take off this season.
“Jones, who missed three games himself in 2019, has an interesting week-by-week stat line, with the most peculiar game coming in Week 12 against Washington, with Jeff Driskel under center. Jones was targeted 11 times and caught just five of those passes; those numbers indicate either a receiver having a bad outing or a quarterback giving a receiver few chances to make a play. Jones’ expected catch rate that date was 44.1 percent and he caught 45.5 percent of his targets, meaning he performed slightly better than expectation. He was afforded just 1.3 yards of separation on average when targeted in that game and battled through a tight window on 54.5 percent of targets. This isn’t the receiver’s fault.
Jones overcame plenty — including the second-highest tight-window percentage (29.7) of any of these pass-catchers — to post our fourth and final double-digit positive catch-rate difference of 2019 (among receivers). His yardage total doesn’t say it, but he made plenty of plays amid disadvantageous circumstances.”
Jones had multiple big games this season including a day in October where he exploded for 4 touchdowns in a game against Minnesota. Though his season was cut short by injury, Jones put up numbers and managed to dominate no matter who was the quarterback. That’s significant and leads to the thought that Jones might be heading for a career year in 2020 with a healthy quarterback.
Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay Named a Top Pass Catching Duo
Recently, Pro Football Focus put together a list of the top wideout groups in the NFL 1-32. Detroit’s group, which is led by Kenny Golladay and Jones, ended up placing No. 6 on the list, safely within the top 10 in the league.
Writer Ben Linsey likes what he sees from the group, as he wrote in the piece:
“The duo of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. may be underrated around the league, but both guys can win in a number of ways, and they excel in contested-catch situations. Golladay ranks fifth in contested catches since 2017 (49) while Jones ranks eighth (42), and both have top-10 contested-catch rates among qualifiers. Danny Amendola remains a solid option in the slot at 34 years old after earning a 71.5 overall grade in 2019, and there’s reason to believe T.J. Hockenson will take a step forward as a receiver in his second season given how effective he was at Iowa. The addition of the best receiving running back in the class — D’Andre Swift — only bolsters the group.”
The Lions have players not only at wideout but other spots ready and willing to jump into the mix and help. That’s the mark of a solid team that has some excellent depth, and is a major reason the Lions might have one of the best groups in the entire league.
Jones and his ability to make plays have to be considered a big reason why.
PFF Raves About Lions Wideouts’ Contested Catch Rate
Detroit’s duo of Jones and Kenny Golladay quietly put up solid seasons in 2019 in terms of production, and interestingly enough, they were also near the top of the league with regards to contested catch rate. Both are top 10 players in the league with regards to the stat according to Pro Football Focus.
But….the #Lions are the only team with a pair of WRs in the Top 10
— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) May 6, 2020
Golladay (58%) and Jones (56%) both showed an innate ability to come down with passes in front of their competition, which provides Matthew Stafford a major weapons to rely on when he looks down the field. It’s safe to say this stat could matter the most for 2020, even when yards and touchdowns are considered. It shows how productive a wideout is able to be.
With these stats in mind, the Lions are set to have a solid season on the field, and might have a better pass catching group than many give them credit for. Jones could lead the way with some sneaky strong ability to pull down passes.
Marvin Jones Dominant for Lions in 2019
Seeing Jones exit with injury late in the 2019 season was tough. Jones was fantastic this past season for the Lions, and opposite Kenny Golladay, has been one of the top wideouts in the entire game. Last season, he’s put up 779 yards and 9 touchdowns, which are solid numbers for Detroit. More than that, he has given the Lions a formidable 1-2 punch with Golladay and has been very dependable this season.
Jones had to prove he could come back off last season’s knee injury which cost him the end of the 2018 season, and he was able to do that with a massive season thus far in 2019. It’s safe to say Jones will continue to put in the good work for the Lions and as a result, should be earning himself love.
It’s unfortunate to say the least that he would get hurt once again, late in a season, but moving forward the Lions will be looking for Jones to be a strong option for them in 2020. That should be able to be the case, and he could even be one of the best players in the league to boot.