Detroit Lions: Can Kenny Golladay threaten this Calvin Johnson record?

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Can the Detroit Lions’ pair of Matthew Stafford and Kenny Golladay break this record?

In his fifth season in the NFL, Calvin Johnson would record the most touchdown catches of his storied career. The former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions would score 16 touchdown receptions in the regular season of 2011. The player lovingly known as Megatron would hit double-digit touchdown totals four times during his nine-year career.

Wide receiver Kenny Golladay never had the opportunity to play alongside Johnson, as the six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro retired at the age of 30 back in 2016. That was a year prior to the Lions drafted Golladay with the 96th overall selection in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

And while no one was comparing the late Day Two pick with Megatron, who was the second overall selection in the first round of a draft that took place a decade earlier, Golladay was able to do something in his third season Calvin Johnson was never able to do. And that’s lead the NFL in touchdown receptions.

Kenny Golladay was the first Detroit Lions’ player to do this in nearly 50 years

By racking up 11 touchdown catches in 2019, Golladay was the first Detroit Lion since 1952 to lead the league in that category. When Calvin Johnson posted his career-high 16 touchdown receptions back in 2011, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski actually lead the NFL with 17 scores.

Of the top seven Lions’ single-season leaders in touchdown receptions, Calvin Johnson currently owns four of those spots. Golladay’s performance from last year places him tied for ninth in that same category along with Herman Moore (1994) and Cloyce Box (1950).

But a very important aspect to Golladay’s performance in 2019 is the fact he only had quarterback Matthew Stafford under center for eight games due to a back injury. And while Stafford was under center for eight games, the pair hooked up for seven of Golladay’s league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns.

If you projected that same production out for a full-16 game season, the combo of Stafford and Golladay would have potentially posted 14 touchdown receptions. And that’s dangerously close to Calvin Johnson’s record from 2011.

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Entering a second-season under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the Detroit Lions’ offense is poised to be even better in 2020. If so, and Matthew Stafford is able to play a full 16-game slate, it’s conceivable that Kenny Golladay could actually threaten one of Calvin Johnson’s most prestigious records.