Lions want to unlock next level from Jahmyr Gibbs as a pass catcher

Jahmyr Gibbs has room to do more in the passing game, and Lions running backs coach Scottie Montgomery has a plan to get him there.
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Jahmyr Gibbs had an excellent rookie season in 2023, with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns in 15 games. He finished third on the team in receptions (52) and targets (71), but there was definitely a dry spell for him in the passing game as his carry total rose.

Over the final six regular season games, Gibbs had two or fewer catches (and three or fewer targets) four times. Things rebounded in the playoffs, with 11 receptions on 14 targets, which points toward more coming in that area this year.

A few weeks ago on "The Rich Eisen Show", general manager Brad Holmes directly noted Gibbs being capable of more in the passing game.

"I think he has much more to offer in the passing game. So most likely you will see an increase in that as well", Holmes said.

Scottie Montgomery wants to see more from Jahmyr Gibbs as a receiver, and has a plan to get it done

Lions running backs coach Scottie Montgomery spoke to reporters during Week 2 of OTAs. Via 97.1 The Ticket, getting more from Gibbs as a pass catcher was something of note.

"Now what we need him to do from a passing game standpoint is go to the next level," Montgomery said. "I do think there's a certain difference between being a really efficient check-down versus a great route-runner, a guy that can run all types of choice (routes). We know we've seen him do those things. But now can you go into the slot and a little bit more down the field, some intermediate stuff. Can we continue to grow him there, and that's what we're trying to do."

According to Pro Football Focus, Gibbs' average depth of target (aDOT) last year during the regular season was a "Blutarsky" (0.0). He was also credited with five drops. He lined up for 48 of 597 total snaps in the slot, which is a pretty low number and rate even when narrowing to 343 passing snaps. His 36 routes run from the slot were far below Christian McCaffrey's 89 slot routes run.

There is definite room to expand how Gibbs is used in the passing game, and it's been repeated internally now.

It's one thing to say something as a coach, then not offer any more detail. Montgomery not only said Gibbs needs to get to another level as a pass catcher, but (in concert with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson) he has a plan for how to make it happen.


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