It’s officially ranking season, and that means it’s time to get furious.
Normally, I do not really participate in the uprising. I’m just telling you the news and let yourself go crazy in the comments section. I’ve been around these parts for a long time knowing that as much as I want to believe I know how the season will play out, no one really does. And I – like all Lions fans – have once watched the upcoming season with bright eyes and high hopes only to be disappointed by November. I do not have to go through another season where we get upset [insert offending writer] in July just so they could be proven right in December.
But if there̵
So when I clicked on Bill Barnwell’s article that ranked the weapons from all 32 teams, I jokingly said during my breath
“If the Lions are not in the top 10, I’ll be pissed. ”
The Detroit Lions were not among Barnwell’s top 10.
They were not in the top 20 either.
Barnwell put the Lions all the way in 25th place, or the eighth worst in the NFL.
I’m not one to hang on to Barnwell. I actually like him a lot. He is very forward-thinking when it comes to analysis, and when he gives his opinion, he usually has a solid base of evidence and statistical support for his arguments. Also, when it comes to ranking things like this, you will do things wrong or overlook some players. That is an impossible task.
But still, it’s a little meaningful.
Part of the problem is with Barnwell’s methods. He says at the top that he will put more emphasis on top level than depth. He takes into account the top five weapons in the team – regardless of position – and awards bonuses to players who are the best in their position. With such a method, it is easy to motivate the Packers (19th) over the Lions. They have Aaron Jones and Davante Adams, who are both probably in the top 10 in their position. But would anyone really prefer Adams-Jones-Devin Funchess-Allen Lazard-AJ Dillon over Golladay-Jones Jr.-Hockenson-D’Andre Swift-Amendola? It would be difficult for me to justify it.
Depth means as much as star strength, and if you do not believe me, check back with me three months into the season.
But let’s go into Barnwell’s specific critique of Detroit’s weapons.
“They will also be hoping for a return to form from Marvin Jones, who has gone from an average of 18 yards per catch in 2017 all the way down to 12.6 last season,” Barnwell wrote.
This seems like a piece of statistical cherry picking. Jones took 62 passes last year, more than any other season with the Lions even though he only played in 13 games. His decline in laps per reception could simply be a difference in use. Lions had another coordinator in 2019 and his average goal depth (aDOT) went from 14.6 in 2018 to 13.1 in 2019. Framing it as a potential sign of decline is misleading.
Don’t get me wrong, at 30 years old, Jones Jr. probably doesn’t have a lot of great years left, but the man put up nine touchdowns last year, which was just two fewer than the league leader. He can still ball.
Elsewhere, he admits it’s too early to worry about Hockenson’s mild rookie year, but calls it “a lost season”, which I honestly don’t even know what it means. Hockenson gained experience in the NFL, was probably humbled and will need to grow in Year 2 just like almost every other close end in NFL history.
He pulls away the quick draft and frames it as a character Kerryon Johnson is made rather than adding another weapon in the backfield. And although I’m not extremely high on Amendola, he probably deserved a passing mention here, as he almost cracked the top 50 in the reception yard last year (678, 53).
Injuries were also a common theme in his criticism of the Lions. At the same time, let’s look around the rest of the article.
Giants (ranked 7):
“If everyone could just get on the field at once, the Giants would be something to stress about to oppose defense.”
Eagles (ranked 10):
Jackson missed most of 2019 with a ground injury, and his future with the team is uncertain after he published anti-Semitic messages on social media. Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury in December, and he has no return schedule. Arcega-Whiteside was a disaster as a beginner, averaging just 0.58 yards per route while handling injuries and making mental mistakes. Goodwin has missed 12 games in the last two seasons with various injuries and personal absence.
Whatever the reason, all these injuries just worried away.
I will admit that my optimism in Lions weapons has a decent amount of faith attached to it. There’s no guarantee that Hockenson will make year 2 jump, and we have not even seen Swift wearing a Lions uniform yet. But Lions’ receiving corps does not require much confidence to see its value. Only one other team in the NFL had three receivers who were set up at least 678 yards last season (Falcons). To add such under teams as New England (Sony Michel, Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry and … Devin Asiasi?) And Minnesota (Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr. .) seems too dismissive.
But maybe I’m just falling into the trap out of season again.