Detroit Lions: Offensive optimism may be hurt by the big picture

Detroit Lions (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Little depth makes health more important

The Detroit Lions trio of top receivers can match up with the top three of any other team in the NFL, however, as mentioned before, injuries happen in the NFL.

Marvin Jones has perhaps been general manager Bob Quinn’s best free-agent signing since Quinn came to Detroit. Jones has been a threat every season he’s been a LIon and put up some big numbers on the receiving end of Matthew Stafford passes. Yet he’s also finished both of the last two seasons on the injured reserve and is now 30 years old.

Then there is Danny Amendola who proved to be a much better signing last year than any of us expected. Amendola is a tough-nosed, technician with very good hands. What he provides from the slot, especially surrounded by Golladay and Jones on the outside, has proven to be very valuable.

But again, Amendola will turn 35 during the season and despite how hard he has worked to have himself in the best shape he can be in, he still missed some time last year.

The Lions passing game could be incredibly explosive when healthy next season, but if injuries ravage the receiving corps, who will pick up the pieces? Fifth-round pick Quintez Cephus is a technician in the Danny Amendola mold but has pretty good size at 6 foot 1 inch and 207 pounds, however, he has below-average speed.

Then, of course, there is … well, I think we all see the problem now. There’s Geronimo Allison who the Lions signed from Green Bay, but has been more of a special teams asset than as a receiver. Travis Fulgham flashed some ability to get open as a rookie in very limited opportunities last year but showcased dropping the ball even more and Chris Lacy did nothing to instill confidence.

I do still have interest in seeing Tom Kennedy get an opportunity. The second-year wideout from tiny Bryant college needs to be polished, but his game is in the mold of Julian Edelman. Whether or not he could become even a poor man’s version of Edelman remains to be seen, but it still leaves us in the same place; the depth at receiver is a concern.

It also doesn’t help that none of the Lions receivers have contracts that last beyond next season. One would have to expect that Bob Quinn will sign Kenny Golladay to an extension at some point, but if the depth is a concern for next season, it’s a panic for 2021.

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Not every question or concern can be answered each offseason, but the Lions at the moment feel comfortable with Golladay, Jones, Amendola, and rookie Quintez Cephus. If they can stay relatively healthy, then the Lions passing game should be outstanding. Again, especially considering the expected progress by tight end T.J. Hockenson.

But if the injury bug takes up residence in the Lions receivers room, then the offensive optimism fans feel will be put to the ultimate test.