A Film Review Of Marvin Jones Performance Against The Minnesota Vikings In Week Twelve.
Why Marvin Jones’ Performance Stands Out
Marvin Jones has been steadily improving in 2017 in an area that really hurt him last season: producing against man coverage. This game was a good showcase to see if this improvement is for real or not. Since coming to the Detroit Lions last season, Jones was nearly taken out of each of their last three match ups against the Minnesota Vikings. Going into Thanksgiving, the Lions receiver had just seven catches on 21 targets, 101 yards, and no touchdowns over these three games.
The Vikings took Jones out of the game largely through tight man coverage with physical cornerback play, mostly coming from their best cornerback in Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes is one of the NFL’s biggest corners at 6’2″ and 215 lbs. And these bigger more physical corners have really given Marvin Jones trouble throughout his career in man coverage.
The Lions receiver was looking like 2017 was going to be another year of the same issues for Jones, but he has been steadily improving against man coverage since week five. Which has led to much more consistent production from the receiver as a whole in the second half of the season. It has been a big reason he has averaged nearly 92 yards per game over the Lions last six games. He also has six of his eight touchdowns on the season over this 6-game stretch due to this improvement against man coverage. Which was evident against Jones performance against the Vikings on Thanksgiving, facing a team and player that had kept him out of their previous matchups.
Jones Beating Rhodes On Thanksgiving
The Vikings are running man on the outside on this play, with Rhodes lined up over Marvin Jones. The Lions receiver starts off with a decent stunt at the line of scrimmage to create a little separation for him to run his route up the sideline. Jones looks back to his quarterback for the ball, but the Vikings cornerback is all over him. But that little separation he got off the stunt kept his outside shoulder clean, giving him enough space to use his great body control to make the 1st down catch, in spite of the close coverage.
This is one of the best plays from the any Lion this season by Marvin Jones. The Lions get a free play as the ball was snapped with the Vikings have twelve men on the field. The twelfth man you can see on this play is #23 Terrence Newman trying to get to the sideline.
Seeing that the ball has already been snapped, the Vikings veteran puts it in high gear to at least make sure Jones does not catch the ball and make the play worse. Xavier Rhodes is in great positioning once again against Jones, with Newman over the top. However, Jones high points the ball perfectly and to snatch the deep ball dime from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for the touchdown, once again in man coverage.
Jones first touchdown of the game was another great contested catch in traffic against Rhodes. However, this one came from Marvin’s more productive coverage to face: off zone. This route was very cleanly run with a nice hesitation at the top of the route. He could see Rhodes open his hips outside, anticipating a corner route. But the hesitation keeps the corner believing the wrong route for a fraction too long, creating enough separation on the in route for the touchdown. Jones improved performance against man helped the Lions stay in contention for most of the game in their close thanksgiving loss and could help the Lions these last five weeks as they make a push for the playoffs.