Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay could be the missing piece that helps the Detroit Lions earn another playoff berth this season.
As the days get colder in the National Football League, the games only become more and more important. This is especially the case for the Detroit Lions, who are currently 6-5 and need to perform well down to the stretch in order to sneak into the playoffs.
In order for Detroit to get that coveted Wild Card Spot, the Lions need contributions from every player on the roster. They can especially use quality play from their key role players, such as rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
Earlier in the year, I wrote about how Golladay is due for a breakout rookie season, predicting that he would have a major impact on this season. My prediction was mostly wrong, since Golladay missed 5 games with a strenuous hamstring injury.
Golladay got off to a great start in the 2017 season, as he had four catches, 69 yards and two touchdowns in a win against the Arizona Cardinals. There was a lot of hype surrounding the Northern Illinois alum after this game, especially after a couple of amazing catches making him look like more than just the average rookie.
After this incredible first game, Golladay was fairly quiet in the next two games, posting only 3 catches combined against the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons. After that, the stud rookie tweaked his hamstring, and it looked like his hot start may have been a fluke.
While that hamstring did seem to be a real bother, Golladay has made a full recovery and looks to be returning to form. He hasn’t been as dominant as he was in that first week, but he’s played pretty close to it.
Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter appears to have a clear role for the rookie, and that’s to stretch out the field with him to open up the offense. He also gives Quarterback Matthew Stafford a legitimate deep ball threat, which is something he’s been missing since the retirement of future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson.
In the last three games, Golladay has been counted on for a couple of key catches, and he’s delivered every time. In these past three contests, he has contributed with a average of two catches and 59 yards per game. These games included some key deep catches, including a 50-yarder against the Cleveland Browns and a 41-yarder against the Minnesota Vikings.
Its not just that Golladay is making these impressive catches, as he’s also making them at key points in these games. Lets look at the 41-yarder against the Vikings for a good example.
First of all, it’s a great throw-and-catch between Stafford and Golladay. Stafford makes a pretty good throw to a spot where only Golladay can grab the ball, and Golladay makes a great diving catch across his back shoulder right along the sideline. That’s a difficult for any wide receiver to make, even an NFL one.
Not only that, but the catch came on a 2nd and 10 from the Lions 25-yard-line with 32 seconds left in the half, when the Lions were down 20-3. This great catch led to a key touchdown to end the half, and gave the Lions the momentum to come back in the game and almost upset the division-leading Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving Day.
With play-calls like that, it’s clear that Cooter wants to use Golladay’s great speed and incredible size in these high-pressure situations. And so far, Golladay has been delivering when called upon.
Kenny Golladay hasn’t exactly been having the breakout year that I predicted he would have, but he has made a significant contribution to this offense. If Golladay and other role players continue to contribute when called upon, the playoff picture for the Detroit Lions gets a little bit clearer.