Allen Park — Marvin Jones didn’t want to make the comparison.
The new Lions wide receiver comes to Detroit after spending the last four seasons in Cincinnati, but he’s so confident in his ability that the differences between Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford don’t matter.
“With me, it’s not really much difference,” he said Tuesday. “Just throw the ball at me and I’ll catch it.”
That’s precisely what the Lions expect from Jones. They gave him a five-year, $40 million deal this offseason hoping he could in some ways replace Calvin Johnson.
Obviously, following in the footsteps of a legend is difficult, and nobody expects him to fully replace the receiver who closed his nine-year career with six straight 1,000-yard seasons. But, Jones understands the expectations that some might cast on him, and he doesn’t feel any extra stress about what’s next.
“I do good with pressure,” he said. “I don’t have any pressure whatsoever on my shoulders. I know what I can do. Obviously, I’m here for a reason and that goes back into the opportunities. Throughout my career, I’ve capitalized on my opportunities the best that I can, and I know that’s what I’m going to do. So, there’s no pressure.”
Jones might be able to avoid the public pressure, but there’s no doubt internal pressure to quickly adjust to his new quarterback and offense. To become comfortable with Stafford, Jones said he just needs repetition.
Even though it might take some time for Jones and Stafford to be on the same page, fellow Lions receiver Golden Tate proved it can be a quick learning curve, catching 99 passes in his first season with the Lions. So far, Jones said he’s “impressed” with Stafford, and even though they still have to work on their timing, Jones thinks the onus is on him to help the offense.
“If it’s in my radius, I have to catch it,” he said. “And if I don’t, it’s on me.”
And taking advantage of every opportunity is one of Jones’ top goals. He thinks he accomplished that in Cincinnati the past four seasons, but with A.J. Green as the No. 1 receiver, Jones peaked at 65 catches and 816 yards.
Although Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said last month that Jones wanted to go somewhere to have a chance at being the No. 1 receiver, Jones said that’s not important to him. Instead, he just wants to succeed when he has the chance.
Jones said his new offense is complex, but when he looks at his teammates, he sees sky-high potential for this group. From what he can tell, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter wants to spread defenses out and with Jones, Tate, Theo Riddick, Eric Ebron and others, the Lions should have the speed and play-making ability to be a strong offense.
“You could tell that we’ll have a chance to be a prolific offense, so that’s a good thing,” he said.
Jones has some experience in a prolific offense as the Bengals scored at least 24 points in seven of their first eight games last season, though they struggled a bit after starting 8-0.
Now, Jones looks to be a bigger part of the offense, and after talking to Tate, he said the young duo has big plans.
“It’s time for us to go get it, and it’s going to be exciting,” he said.