Detroit Lions: What to expect from Kenny Golladay in 2019

The Detroit Lions have a new offensive coordinator for the 2019 year. What will Kenny Golladay’s 2019 output be like in his first year under Darrell Bevell?

The Detroit Lions hired a new offensive coordinator this offseason in Darrell Bevell. Bevell believes in a run-heavy offense that uses the run the set up the pass and runs the offense in a way that allows passing plays to be as efficient as possible.

Despite having passing attempts in bottom of the league most years and rushing attempts near the top of the league most years, Bevell’s offense more often than not finish in the top half of the league in both yards gained and points scored and both point differential and yardage differential.

Going into 2019, wide receiver Kenny Golladay is expected to be the number one receiving option for quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions. After a sophomore season that saw Golladay catch 70 balls for over 1,000 yards and five touchdowns, many people are expecting another big jump for him his third year in the league.

While I expect Golladay to improve slightly on those numbers I don’t think the jump will be as big as many people think it will be. Golladay and the offensive players are learning a new system that is built on a run-first foundation. Bevell is known for running the ball and the whole Lions front office and coaches have spoken many times they want to run the ball more.

When taking into account those statements and looking at the past seasons of Bevell’s offenses it seems very likely the Lions could be a top five team in the league in rushing attempts while being in the bottom 10 in passing attempts. Because of that lack of passing I do not think Golladay will see his numbers inflate much at all.

In his 12 seasons as an offensive coordinator Bevell’s leading receiver has averaged 100.33 targets, 65.9 receptions, 907.4 yards, and 6.1 touchdowns per season. However, Bevell never had a receiver repeat as his number one target until 2014-2017 when wide receiver Doug Baldwin finally established himself as the number one go-to guy. In those four years Baldwin averaged 110.5 targets, 78.25 receptions, 1003.25 yards, and eight touchdowns per season.

Based off these numbers and looking at how Bevell has said he wants to run the offense, I wouldn’t expect Golladay to see a big jump in his numbers in his first year under Bevell. Looking at all the numbers and seeing how Bevell wants to run the Lions’ offense, a stat line of about 105 targets, 75 receptions, 1100 yards, and seven touchdowns should be a solid expectation to have for Golladay.

In Bevell’s 12 seasons of running offenses, the best stat line was produced by Sidney Rice in 2009 (when Brett Favre first went to Minnesota) when he received 121 targets, 83 receptions, 1312 yards, and eight touchdowns. This was Rice’s third year under Bevell and third year in the NFL.

Baldwin’s best stat line was either in 2016 when he caught 94 passes (on 125 targets) for 1128 yards (12 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns or 2015 when caught 78 passes (103 targets) for 1069 yards (13.7 yards per reception) and 14 touchdowns. These happened in Baldwin’s fifth and sixth years under Bevell and also his fifth and sixth years in the NFL.

Since this is Golladay’s first year in Bevell’s system and only his third year in the league I wouldn’t expect him to match Rice’s or Baldwin’s career years quite yet. A final stat line of 75-1100-7 would be a reasonable expectation for him in 2019. Most likely Golladay’s big jump will come in 2020, his first potential contract year, when Bevell has learned how to best utilize him and when Golladay will have a complete understanding of the playbook.