The Detroit Lions entered training camp with several questions about their offense. That’s to be expected when your trade away your longtime franchise quarterback who also happened to be the team’s best overall player in the offseason.
With Matthew Stafford no longer under center, the new regime in Detroit has kicked off a new offensive era in the Motor City … for better or worse. And the first player to try and fill Stafford’s shoes is actually a two-time Pro Bowler (one more than Stafford) in Jared Goff.
But the questions about the offense don’t necessarily start with Goff, but rather the lack of talent surrounding him. Specifically his makeshift wide receiver corps. The new-look Lions parted ways with nearly every starting receiver they had on the roster last season and replaced them with free-agent veterans on one-year deals and unproven rookies.
It’s so bad in Detroit that Pro Football Focus recently slotted the Lions’ wide receiver corps next-to-last, 31st overall, in their ranking entering the 2021 NFL regular season. And although this group has potential, that’s about all they have.
Luckily, Goff comes to Detriot with a ready-made number one offensive weapon to target. And that’s tight end T.J. Hockenson. The former eighth overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft is fresh off his first Pro Bowl season and is ready to become the top receiver for this new era in Motown.
According to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com, Hockenson has also been the best offensive skill player through two weeks of camp. Here’s what fellow tight end Darren Fells told MLive.com recently about his Pro Bowl teammate…
"“In my mind, [Hockenson’s] one of the top tight ends in the NFL. He can go out there, and like you guys saw, make big plays when called upon. Great blocker as well. When he’s next to me, I feel like there’s no weakness in there. With Hockenson, you know exactly what you’re going to get.”"
In 2020, Hockenson more than doubled his production from his rookie season. The 24-year old racked up 67 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns earning himself that first Pro Bowl nomination.
With so many questions lingering about the Detroit Lions wide receiver corps, Jared Goff still has a reliable number one receiving target in T.J. Hockenson. And from the reports and highlight videos coming out of training camp so far, it appears these two are quickly building chemistry that could result in the Lions surprising those who are already counting 2021 as a lost season in Detroit.