Jones fades but not forgotten in Lions' receivers

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions' Marvin Jones Jr. had two catches for 10 yards, including a touchdown, in last week's win over the Rams.

Allen Park — Through the first four weeks of the season, Marvin Jones was the NFL’s most productive receiver. The prized free agent acquisition appeared to establish himself as the Detroit Lions’ No. 1 receiver, racking up 482 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

But as defenses have adjusted, Jones’ numbers have dipped. Last weekend against the Rams, he finished with two catches for 10 yards. That’s one of the lowest outputs of his career, but a pill far easier to swallow with a win.

“No, you can’t find a fault in a victory,” Jones said. “I haven’t put up the same yardage I was putting up, for various reasons, but at the end of the day, we got Ws. You’re happy to win because that’s the most important thing. That’s the ultimate goal, so how we win them, whether I go for 200 yards or one and a half yards, it doesn’t matter if we have success and win.”

When Jones was thriving the first month of the season, Golden Tate struggled. When defenses game-planned to limit Jones, Tate re-emerged, finishing with a career-high 165 yards against Los Angeles.

“If somebody is doubling me, we know we have the players to really wreck shop,” Jones said. “Defenses are going to play how they’re going to play and you just adjust. We have great game plans that prepare us to adjust to anything. We’re not missing a beat.”

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And this was how the Lions envisioned it when they signed Jones this offseason, along with slot receiver Anquan Boldin.

Detroit’s offense isn’t reliant upon one dominant receiver to set the tone, the way it was built around Calvin Johnson. It’s now set up for multiple options to take advantages of mismatches. Some weeks it will be Jones, others it will be Tate, Boldin, tight end Eric Ebron or running back Theo Riddick.

This week, Jones figures to draw a tough matchup in Washington cornerback Josh Norman, a challenge the receiver embraces, but could anchor his production for a third straight week.

“He’s one of the best in the league and you want those matchups,” Jones said. “We’re prepared for anything they do. If he travels or he doesn’t travel, we’ll be ready.”

Jones still leads the Lions in receiving, by a wide margin, despite being targeted just six times more than Tate. Jones’ 529 yards rank seventh in the NFL and his four touchdown grabs are one off the pace of the league leaders.

Jones had an opportunity for another score against the Rams, but had a rare communication breakdown quarterback Matthew Stafford. In one-on-one coverage near the goal line, the receiver ran a fade route while the quarterback looked for him to run a slant.

Twitter: @justin_rogers