The Joesph Fauria Story: All he does is catch touchdowns


Nov 3, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with rather Buddy Ryan and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan before the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports

Former Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria signs with Arizonia Cardinals.

While Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles Buddy Ryan once said of future HOF Wide Receiver Chris Carter, “all he does it catch touchdowns.” For Ryan, this was a bad thing that actually factored into Carter being cut.

In fairness to Ryan there were other variables that led to Carter’s dismissal. Ryan recognized Carter had off-field issues that could derail his career. Cutting Carter is widely accepted as an old football coach’s way of showing a kid some tough love.

Be that as it may as a defensive-minded coach Buddy Ryan didn’t quite understand that a receiver’s primary job is to score touchdowns. Blocking is fine, but that’s an added bonus. Outrunning defenders is great yet having a knack for making the contested catch is the stuff of Hall of Fame careers.

For some reason Buddy Ryan simply could not wrap his head around those concepts.

Fast forward to 2015 and Lions fans echoed the same sentiments about Joseph Fauria. I’ve read criticisms suggesting Fauria couldn’t block, he couldn’t stay healthy and worse yet, all he did for the Lions was catch touchdowns.

Wait, what?

The Lions produced a paltry 22 passing touchdowns in 2014. That was only the 17th best total in the League. Factor in that only 10 receiving touchdowns were scored by players not named Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate and the Lions’ need for someone who could regularly snag receiving touchdowns becomes glaring.

When healthy, Joseph Fauria gave the Lions their best option to score touchdowns through the air. I know expectations for Eric Ebron are huge, but he only scored 8 touchdowns in his entire collegiate career and never eclipsed 4 touchdowns in a single season.

Dec 7, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron (85) leaps over Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Johnthan Banks (27) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Rogers of predicts Ebron will at least double his production in 2014. That sets the bar at about 50 receptions, 500 yards and 2 TDs for Ebron in 2015. Though the Lions seem in denial regarding the decline of Brandon Pettigrew the fact is his production as a receiver has sharply and steadily declined over the past three seasons. After a 10-catch, 70-yard and 0 touchdown season in 2014 the team would be fortunate to get 20 receptions and a single touchdown from Pettigrew in 2015.

One would think the team’s most accomplished touchdown scorer at the position would be safe in light of those realistic expectations from the team’s projected starting tight ends.

But Fauria wasn’t safe.

When the team finalized its 53-man roster Fauria was one of the cuts made. According to several reports he has signed on with the Arizona Cardinals.

I am predicting a ‘healthy’ Joseph Fauria will more than double the COMBINED touchdown production of Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew in 2015. Furthermore, I am predicting many Lions fans who turned against Fauria will lament his departure by season’s end.

August 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) signals at the line of scrimmage against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I make my production projection based on the following factors. First, Fauria is going to a team that features a more accurate quarterback than the one he left. Palmer has a career completion percentage of 62.6% while Matthew Stafford has only completed 59.6% of his career passes.

Please understand, I’m not suggesting Carson Palmer is a ‘better’ quarterback than Matthew Stafford. I am merely pointing out that Palmer is a more accurate passer.

Another factor that works in Fauria’s favor is a general lack of offensive playmakers in the Cardinal offense.

Larry Fitzgerald still has some of the best hands in football, but his athleticism has substantially eroded over the years. Today, when ‘Fitz’ gets open it’s usually the result of incredible play design by Arians versus than anything Fitzgerald has done to create the opportunity. Players like Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington have flashed potential, but need to show more consistency.

Nov 27, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Detroit won 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Notwithstanding the prior, what gives Fauria the biggest edge is transitioning from a Joe Lombardi led offense to one led by Bruce Arians. There may not be a more pronounced dichotomy in talent than the chasm that exists between the reigning NFL Coach of the Year and Joe Lombardi.

Arians took an offense that was often led by backup quarterbacks and orchestrated one of the most prolific passing attacks in the NFL. Lombardi took over a once explosive offense that was stacked with offensive playmakers yet somehow led it into decline. What’s worse, Lombardi would eventually admit he couldn’t figure out how to use one of the best wide receivers of all-time.

Like him or not, Joseph Fauria possessed a skill set the Lions could have used. Like Chris Carter before him, the strange aversion one team showed to receiving targets who thrived at scoring touchdowns will be better appreciated when he does the same for another squad.

Revenge is a dish that may well be on the menu in Detroit on October 11th when the Cardinals pay the Lions a visit.

While I remain hopeful the Lions will win the game, I’m predicting a big day for Fauria that includes 10+ catches, 100+ receiving yards and two touchdown receptions. On the season I am predicting 40 catches 8+ touchdowns and 400 yards.

What do you think Fauria’s impact will be against the Lions on October 11th?  Do you agree with the prediction Fauria will more double the touchdown production of Ebron and Pettigrew or is the projection a reach?

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