Is Marvin Jones the hero we deserve?
We lost one of our heroes yesterday. Calvin Johnson wasn’t a soldier, a first responder, or anything approaching that level of hero, but every Sunday he gave us some hope. As with any grieving survivors, the tendency is going to be to compare the world we live in now with the world that existed before the tragedy occurred. The tendency is going to be to compare Marvin Jones to Calvin Johnson. But when you do it, and you will (just like we all did at some point with Haloti Ngata and Ndamukong Suh), it is important to remember the scale.
Calvin’s cap number this year was $24 million, next year $21 million, and the following two years $18 million. Marvin Jones on the other hand has cap numbers averaging 8 million per year for five years. His statistical impact will eclipse 1/3 of what Calvin Johnson’s would have been for the season. Even if you were to compare it to Calvin’s best season, a 700 yard season from Jones would be money better spent than Johnson’s deal. If you compare it to last year’s output form Megatron, Jones needs 400 yards in 2016 to be an equal value. So when you compare the two as time rolls on, recall that on average the price difference between the two will probably let the Lions keep Daruis Slay, or Ziggy Ansah, or Riley Reiff as well as giving us whatever production Marvin Jones puts on the field.
What does Jones bring to the table for the Lions? That’s the obvious question for us all to be asking right now. Well he isn’t a top five Wide Receiver in the league, but he does have some elite traits, and will be a perfect compliment to Golden Tate. Whereas Golden Tate excels in the short passing game, taking slants and bubble screens for incredible yardage after the catch, Jones is one of the best deep receivers in the league, adjusting to longer throws and making circus catches down field. There are three traits Jones has that make him potentially underpaid in the Lions offense. Yeah, you read that right, I think that despite being the biggest deal of the day at his position, Marvin Jones might actually end up looking like an underpay when we look back at this signing a few years from now.
Jones has incredible body control. He has an innate awareness of where his body is, in relation to his surroundings. Jones makes moves while he catches the ball. Most receivers need to catch the ball before making a move, or the result is a drop, but watching the 2015 highlights that have been making their rounds on /r/lions one of the most striking things about Jones’ big plays is that the various parts of his body move to seemingly opposing goals. His hands going up to the ball while he taps his toes in bounds, his shoulders shaking to disorient a would be tackler as his arms are still securing the ball. At the 3:30 mark of this Highlight video, an upside down Jones propels himself along the ground with one arm, while his other puts the ball over the goal line, as his head hits the turf. The man has absolute control over his body. The picture above is of a man reaching to score a touchdown, rather than shield his head from an impact.
The adjustments he makes to throws are on a level rarely seen. Most are not as obvious as a high pointed touchdown catch, though he makes plenty of those. It is on smaller plays, where a less than perfect throw on a crossing route comes his way and he simply puts his hands where the catch should be made, and slows down to catch the ball in stride before resuming full speed almost immediately. Most receivers are very obvious when they need to adjust to the ball, particularly bigger receivers. Jones has a big body, and effortlessly adjusts his velocity to put himself in a position to make a play after the catch.
His concentration is also as good as it gets; he had two drops on 107 targets last season for an incredible 1.9% drop rate. To give a scale to that number, Golden Tate has some of the best hands in the business, and had a 2.3% drop rate while catching primarily bubble screens and slants in the Lions offense last season. Jones was not utilized in such a manner, being the primary deep threat of the Bengals offense in some weeks.
Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are a perfect complementary pair. Both players are willing and able to run any route, but excel in different areas of the field. Make no mistake, the Lions would have been better off with Calvin Johnson, but this was the absolute best case scenario in terms of a consolation prize. The sun set yesterday on an era of Lions football, but you know what? It still came up today.
Tavon Wilson – A pick-up from the Patriots
Also the team picked up a backup safety in Tavon Wilson from the Patriots, which isn’t very surprising now that our front office is dominated by former patriots staff. He played 83 snaps total last year. Championship! If that picture is any indication he’s a good person, and I think we all hope that a change of scenery gives his career a much needed shot in the arm. He was a Free Safety/ Corner coming out of college, but he’s listed at 215lbs which is 10lbs heavier than Isa Abdul-Quddus who looked just fine at Strong Safety in Austin’s scheme. Could be the surprise best pick up of the off season.