BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Detroit Lions receivers Marvin Jones Jr. (1,101) and Golden Tate (1,003) finishing with 1,000-yard seasons in 2017 marked the seventh time in franchise history that two receivers both reached the 1,000-yard mark in the same season.
Jones’ ability to stretch the defense and make plays down the field was huge for Detroit’s offense.
Tate's ability to rack up receptions and make plays after the catch has made him one of the most reliable and consistent performers in the NFL at the position.
Together, the duo has helped make Detroit’s passing attack one of the most versatile in the league.
Detroit Lions legend Herman Moore knows a little something about good receiving duos. Twice during his career did Moore and a teammate both have 1,000-yard receiving in the same season. He knows all too well the pressure that puts on a defense.
“It gives you balance with your quarterback because he knows he has options,” Moore told detroitlions.com on radio row at the Super Bowl.
“We had that same rapport with myself and Brett Perriman with Scott Mitchell, because you feel like you can pick a side and win and you don’t have to worry about, ‘when I get in trouble I need to go to one specific guy.’
“It provides a level of confidence throughout the playing field for a guy like (Matthew) Stafford that will allow him to not have to make ill-advised decisions on where to put the football because he feels stressed.”
Tate caught 92 passes and five touchdowns to go along with those 1,003 receiving yards this season. He led all NFL receivers in yards gained after the catch with 613.
Jones’ nine receiving touchdowns tied for fourth in the NFL. He had 15 receptions of 25-plus yards (tied for third most) and 20 receptions of 20-plus yards (tied for fifth).
Just imagine if Kenny Golladay, who’ll be entering his second season next year after showing significant promise as a rookie, becomes the receiver the Lions think he can be.
“The benefit of having a solid third guy is that they create a real significant matchup problem when you start to see the talent drop off in the secondary,” Moore said.
“Typically, that top guy is following your top receiver. Then your nickel packages, you're able to do combinations on that nickel guy. Then, the third guy becomes the X factor. If you can create that matchup issue, it becomes a real headache for your opponent. Golladay provides that with his size and speed.”
Detroit ranked sixth in the NFL in passing this season, and Stafford had one of the best statistical years of his career with 4,446 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.
The Lions had the second lowest drop percentage in the NFL at just 3.4 percent of the catchable passes Stafford threw.
“When you look at the benefit of having three good receivers and the benefit it has to your offensive playbook,” Moore said. “It allows it to open up.
“Now you can have all kinds of scenarios and combinations of how you work those three receivers from formation to how you spread them out across the line of scrimmage.”
Add in dynamic pass catchers at running back (Theo Riddick) and tight end (Eric Ebron), and Moore thinks Detroit’s passing attack could be one of the scariest in the NFL in 2018.