The Detroit Lions have one more representative in the 2020 Pro Bowl: wide receiver, Kenny Golladay. He joins Darius Slay as the only other Lion on the team.
In an otherwise down year, the Detroit Lions are sending two players to Orlando for the 2020 Pro Bowl. Darius Slay, Lions elite cornerback, qualified for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, his teammate, Kenny Golladay–third-year wide receiver–will make his first appearance in the all-star game, replacing injured Tampa Bay receiver, Chris Godwin. Golladay had a strong year, and his nomination is well-deserved.
The Lions finished the 2019 regular season with an underwhelming record of 3-12-1. They did not score many points–about 21 per game (18th in the NFL)–and missed the playoffs for the third straight season. They also dealt with injuries throughout the year. These injuries meant the Lions saw significant playing time split among three different quarterbacks. Through it all, Golladay was a bright spot on a bleak offense.
Somewhat incredibly, Kenny Golladay led the league with 11 total touchdown receptions. The Rams Cooper Kupp and Ravens Mark Andrews trailed him with 10 each (and teammate, Marvin Jones followed closely with nine). 11 touchdowns are by far the high mark in Golladay’s young career; before 2019, he had only eight touchdowns in 26 games. It bears repeating: the Lions suited up three players at quarterback this season, so Golladay’s accomplishment is quite outstanding.
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One would think the proverbial revolving door of quarterbacks would lead to fewer receptions, not more. Quarterbacks have less familiarity with their targets and might instead rely on the running game instead of passing. Instead, of those three QBs, Matthew Stafford threw seven in Golladay’s direction, David Blough three, and Jeff Driskel the remaining score. So, while Stafford had the most involvement in Golladay’s offensive surge, all of the quarterbacks contributed to his output.
Part of this is due to the fact the Lions struggled to get productivity from the running game. They put up a pitiful seven scores on the ground (29th in the league). In a season where many critics anticipated the Lions to improve the running game, they took a step back from 11 rushing touchdowns in 2018. Clearly, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s plan had to shift to the passing game. This is also how the aforementioned Marvin Jones ended the year one touchdown shy of a career-high.
Whether it was a screen or long pass, Golladay caught a variety of passes. 2019 saw Golladay’s two longest touchdowns of his career: a 59-yard reception from Stafford in Week 9 and a whopping 75-yarder in Week 13 courtesy of David Blough. He also had five TDs of less than 10 yards, including a three-yard screen (a career shortest TD reception) in a loss to Denver at the end of the year. This demonstrates a diversity to Golladay’s offensive game, one which will hopefully continue to develop as he gets older.
Kenny Golladay has the opportunity to make an impression for the NFC in the Pro Bowl, as he did for his Detroit Lions during the regular season. The game will be held in Orlando, Florida, next Sunday, January 26.