The Detroit Lions Offense Was Garbage Without Golden Tate.
The Detroit Lions traded their leading receiver of four consecutive seasons for a third-round draft pick. Even worse, they had the audacity to pass it off like that didn’t constitute punting on the season. I have a message for you Mr. Quinn: Lions fans have seen punting on a season before. Some of us have been watching it longer than you’ve been alive.
The Lions passing offense with wide receiver Golden Tate was number 14 in the NFL in passing yardage up to this point. 267.3 yards per game. The team was top ten in passing touchdowns on a per game basis, 14 in seven games, and the offense was number 14 in 3rd down conversion percentage at 42.4%.
The Minnesota Vikings had the number 15 defense in the air, at 244.6 yards per game. They were number 11 in passing touchdowns allowed. Minnesota has a slightly above average pass defense. A reasonable expectation, all things considered, would be 255 yards of production from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Unfortunately, Stafford forgot that he was allowed to throw the ball away, and he held the ball for far too long against a furious pass rush. Even with a final drive against a prevent defense, the Lions only managed 199 yards in the air. The Lions gave up a franchise ten sacks, and half of those were lost opportunities for Stafford to give up the down and move on.
The Detroit Lions Receivers
Kenny Golladay was the early recipient of a reverse that he took for good yardage. He is fast and powerful on those plays, not shifty like Tate, but the play worked. It was the longest run the Lions had on the day. Golladay was supposed to be the beneficiary of Tate’s absence, but he finished the day with three receptions on four targets for 48 yards.
TJ Jones was another candidate to benefit from the Tate trade, but he was targeted only twice. Marvin Jones caught six balls on eight targets for 66 yards. Other than the low yardage that is basically what he had been doing for the last few weeks with Tate on the field.
You Asked For It
In a move that infuriates me, Theo Riddick is filling the slot receiver role. His lack of established ability as a downfield receiver at the NFL level limits how effective he can be, which makes the move a terrible idea. It allows whoever is covering him to focus only on covering the short passes, and that has always been the problem with Riddick. He is a one trick pony, and everyone knows how the trick works at this point. To establish this as even a relevant option, the Lions need to push the ball downfield to him.
It has never been tried, we have no idea how that will work. They didn’t make him run a pattern deeper than five yards all day. Unfortunately, with that type of utilization, he is about as dangerous as tight end Levine Toilolo. Riddick ended the day with seven receptions on eight targets. If feeding Riddick is the team’s solution to filling Tate’s cleats, this season is over.
I actually feel bad for offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Tate was the team’s leading receiver in 2018, which would have been his fifth consecutive season in that role. The decision to trade that valuable of a player was a knife in the offensive coordinator’s back. He’s clearly been a dead man walking since January. The Tate trade just confirmed it.