Lions Offensive Weapons Disrespected Heading Into 2020 Season

Kenny Golladay Marvin Jones

Getty Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones celebrate a touchdown.

The Detroit Lions have spent time building up their offense en-route to an important 2020 season, and most feel the team is primed to be able to do some damage as a result.

ESPN might not consider that to be the case whatsoever, though. A new piece by Bill Barnwell ranks every team’s offensive weapons heading into the 2020 season, excluding the quarterback and offensive line. Detroit, despite having the makings of a solid group in the skill spots, ranked a mere 25th in the league. That’s down from 2019 (18th) and 2018 (21st) despite the team adding plenty of skill players designed to get them over the hump for the future.

Barnwell wrote:

“Heading into last year, Lions fans were excited about a new big three of Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay and T.J. Hockenson. One out of three ain’t bad! Golladay averaged 18.3 yards per catch and scored 11 touchdowns, but Johnson missed half of the season with a knee injury and seemed to fall out of favor with the organization. Hockenson, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 draft, had 131 yards and a touchdown in the opener against a hapless Cardinals pass defense, but then only added 236 additional yards over the next 11 games before hitting injured reserve with ankle and shoulder injuries.

It’s way too early to be concerned about Hockenson given how many great tight ends are ordinary in their debut seasons, but it was mostly a lost season. Johnson will be competing with second-rounder D’Andre Swift, with the Lions hoping at least one of them turns into a productive back. They’ll also be hoping for a return to form from Marvin Jones, who has gone from averaging 18 yards per catch in 2017 all the way down to 12.6 last season. It would be easy to chalk that up to subpar quarterback play, but Jones averaged 12.7 yards per catch with Matthew Stafford at quarterback. There’s plenty of talent on paper here, but the Lions need somebody besides Golladay to leap.”

Obviously, the Lions are counting on a ton of players stepping up and making leaps, but it’s more than possible it can play out that way for the team given the sheer number of players they have. It seems 25th is a major dose of disrespect to the team given what they can do this season on offense.

Stafford himself can get this group over the hump, and if he is healthy, he should make his weapons even better no matter what the rankings say. For now, there isn’t a ton of belief in the Lions heading into the 2020 season.

Lions Primed for Success With Matthew Stafford, Darrell Bevell

Continuity should help the Detroit offense really take off. Recently, Pro Football Focus revealed a look at the top average depths of reception for quarterbacks in 2019. Stafford led the way with an 8.7 mark. The stat proves that Stafford was well on his way to a great season throwing the ball before injury struck midway through.

Not all was lost, however. The 2019 season may have been a wash, but it’s obvious as pointed out that Darrell Bevell knows just how he wants to use his rocket armed quarterback moving forward. Stafford will be able to be unleashed once more this coming season, and gone are the days of the short passes under Jim Bob Cooter.

If there was one complaint about Cooter, it was the coordinator often times held Stafford back and didn’t allow him to spread his wings as a passer. Other offenses Stafford had been in allowed him to throw the ball more freely, and Bevell deserves credit for seeing that this approach was likely Stafford at his best and quickly implementing it after taking over.

Bevell is also committed to having a serious running game, so if the Lions can get their runners going, it will only help Stafford’s passing numbers look gaudier when all is said and done.

Stafford and Bevell aligned at the right time with the right approach, and the duo could be a great pair for the Lions given the meshing of their ideological approach.

Lions Wideouts Named a Top NFL Group

Not everyone thinks the team’s weapons aren’t to be taken seriously. 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 Marvin 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.

Clearly, the Lions have a chance to prove this ranking more than a bit silly by the time 2020 is through.

READ NEXT: Lions Sign 2 More Players From 2020 Draft Class

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