Ebron's 2017 season a tale of two halves

Posted Jan 3, 2018

Tight end Eric Ebron’s confidence and production noticeably improved over the second half of the 2017 season.

If there was ever a case of a season being a tale of two halves, Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron’s 2017 campaign certainly qualifies.

To say Ebron struggled the first half of this season might be a bit of an understatement. Over the first eight weeks of the season, Ebron ranked 30th in catches, 32nd in yards, 27th in touchdowns and 22nd in catches of 25-plus yards, and that was just among tight ends.

But something clicked for Ebron in this Lions' offense the second half of the season, and he came on very strong the second half. Over the last eight weeks of the season, Ebron ranked fourth among tight ends in catches (40), fourth in yards (472), seventh in touchdowns (3) and third in 25-plus-yard receptions (5).

When asked about his second half revival, Ebron had a rather easy explanation.

“I feel like my successes came from the amount of targets that ended up changing for me,” Ebron said after the season. “The way they started to utilize me going into the end of the year, which allowed me to do what I do best.

“I just feel like that was the best possible thing for me and it worked out and hopefully we continue that so my whole season goes the way it ended, instead of just the end of the season.”

Ebron’s targets did see a significant uptick the second half of the season vs. the first half. He was targeted 32 times weeks 1-8. Through weeks 9-17, that number jumped to 54 targets.

Ebron’s confidence and production noticeably improved over the second half of the season, after drops and inconsistencies plagued him early on. He started making the kind of plays down the stretch that earned him a top 10 selection in the 2014 draft.

“Eric had a good year,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said earlier this week. “I think Eric really, the last seven, eight weeks of the season really kind of turned it on.

“When you look at his play time over the course of the season, it actually went down over the course of the season, but his production went up. So, I think he was really used effectively. He gained some confidence over the course of the season and he performed better.”

Quinn picked up the fifth-year option on Ebron’s rookie contract for next season, but that option was guaranteed for injury only.

“I don’t know,” Ebron said of what the offseason will hold for him. “I look forward to it. To whatever is about to happen, whatever is coming up next, I look forward to it.”

When asked if he planned to bring Ebron back in 2018, Quinn seemed rather matter-of-fact about it.

“Yeah, he’s under contract with a tender,” he said.

What the offense looks like next year, and who is directing it, are still questions yet to be answered, but Ebron seems to have his swagger back. He proved he can be a big-time weapon when utilized in the right way.