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Lions receivers aren’t good hands people this year

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Marvin Jones drops a pass against the Bears on Oct. 2.

Allen Park – Before Jim Caldwell arrived in Detroit, dropped passes were a problem. The Lions had the league’s worst drop percentage in 2013, putting 7.1 percent of passes on the ground.

Caldwell implemented new practice strategies to decrease the mistakes and the work paid immediate dividends. The team ranked 20th in 2014 and 28th last year.

But this season the drops have returned.

Through seven games, the Lions are once again leading the league in balls hitting the ground. The team has dropped 6.4 percent of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s throws.

The problem has seemingly affected all of his weapons. Marvin Jones, despite never dropping more than three passes in a season before this year, has already let five slip through his fingers. Anquan Boldin has dropped three, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron two each, while Andre Roberts, Justin Forsett and Theo Riddick have a drop apiece.

“We have guys that in general are really good hands guys, traditionally have been low-drop-percentage guys, and we’re having too many,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “It’s something that’s a point of emphasis and it’s something that’s really important to get fixed because it’s a good way to stop a drive, stall a drive or make things a lot tougher on you.”

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Despite the drops, Stafford is still completing a career-best 68.1 percent of his passes. But if the Lions were dropping passes at a league-average rate, that percentage would jump to 71 percent. Only five quarterbacks in NFL history have completed better than 70 percent of their throws in a single season.

NFL SINGLE-SEASON COMPLETION PERCENTAGE LEADERS

1. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 71.2 percent (2011)

T2. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 70.6 percent (2009)

T2. Ken Anderson, Cincinnati, 70.6 percent (1982)

T4. Sammy Baugh, Washington, 70.3 percent (1945)

T4. Steve Young, San Francisco, 70.3 percent (1994)

6. Joe Montana, San Francisco, 70.2 percent (1989)