Detroit Lions: Why Kenny Golladay is the real deal

In just two plays, Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay turned a forgettable NFL debut into the birth of a star. Is this about to become the new normal?

I first posed the question last month. Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay had a couple of touchdown grabs in the preseason opener. People around the Detroit Lions became suddenly excited about a potential hidden gem.

Before the NFL draft, I’d never once heard of this guy. I expressed being equal parts intrigued and skeptical. Maybe slightly more parts skeptical, but the main point was that Kenny Golladay had my attention. So I watched him extra closely on Sunday afternoon.

I watched him drop a catchable deep ball in the first quarter. Then I saw him drop another one. I observed his first career catch (nondescript 9 yard gain), and first career penalty on back to back plays. Matthew Stafford went his way on a two point conversion, and Golladay couldn’t come down with it.

Heading into the fourth quarter, there was no reason whatsoever to believe that this Golladay guy might be the next big thing. On top of that, the Lions trailed 17-15 and were still seeking their first lead of the day. The story of Golladay’s official NFL debut changed pretty quickly from that point.

On second down from the ten yard line, Stafford went in Golladay’s direction once again. It was the type of simple pass he used to take for granted  with Calvin Johnson. Beat your man, use your size, go up and get it. Golladay followed all three of these directions, and put a go-ahead fourth quarter touchdown on the board in his first game.

Things didn’t really get interesting until the following drive though.

He Has My Attention

With a 21-17 lead and in potential clock-eating mode, Stafford took another chance on his rookie. Another one from the old Calvin Johnson playbook. Deep bomb into semi-double coverage, full reliance on the receiver’s athleticism. Putting one just within reach to put the game just out of reach. Golladay is being trusted with this in his first game.

The ball was overthrown, the Golladay comes out of nowhere, lays out fully, and the legend is off and diving. This was the first “what the hell was that??” catch that a Lions receiver has had for at least a few years, and in two plays, Golladay changed the complexion of the entire afternoon. Both for the team, and for himself.

In those two plays, the Lions’ horrendous start was erased, a plodding comeback attempt turned into a breeze of a win (Carson Palmer‘s pick-six a play later also helped), and Stafford may have just found his X-factor at wideout.

Of course it’s only one game. And specifically, it was only two plays. Let’s also not forget that another hyped Lions rookie receiver once also had two touchdowns in the season opener against the Cardinals. Charles Rogers never again replicated his opening day performance.

Let’s also not forget that Golladay had two game-changing touchdown catches on a day where overall, he didn’t even really play that well. The greatest part might be that he still has a lot of room to improve.  Pretty soon, the guys up in section 316 may even stop calling him ‘Galloway’.

So what’s going on here? Is Kenny Golladay really about to become Marques Colston version 2.0? Is he really about to become Calvin Johnson version 0.2? That’s still a compliment, by the way.

Who is this Golladay guy? I’ll say it: he’s the real deal.