Chicago Bears must limit Marvin Jones splash plays

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 23: Marvin Jones
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 23: Marvin Jones /

Marvin Jones is a play maker that the Chicago Bears must key in on

In the NFL role players are never talked about. It is starting to become a topic more in the NBA, because of position-less basketball and players like Ben Simmons and Giannis Antetonkumpo re-defining the game. In the NBA players are identified by role about as often as position. “Combo guard”, “Three-and-D”, “Rim Runner” are now adjectives to describe players more than small forward and shooting guard.

However, it is the same idea in the NFL. You find a player who is talented in specific areas and find ways to showcase those specific areas. If all you can do is play defense and shoot threes, you guard the teams best wing and find ways to shoot threes on the perimeter.

If players were defined by roles in the NFL, Marvin Jones would be considered a splash player. As a wide receiver, he is not on the level of Antonio Brown or Julio Jones. Still, in terms of splash players, Marvin Jones would be looked at as one of the best players at his role.

Ball Tracking

Marvin Jones is not the best route runner. Among players with at least 38 targets, Jones ranks 114th in yards of separation per target. He also does not do much after the catch, ranking 96th in the NFL.

The good thing for the Lions is that they do not ask him to do either of those much. Hence the splash plays. Jones is basically the nicotine gum for Matthew Stafford as he weans himself off of Calvin Johnson. Jones is the player that Stafford can throw the ball up to, and know his receiver has a chance of coming down with it.

This comes through a variety of skills that starts with an ability to find the ball and track it down.

As shown below, Marvin Jones torches rookie Marlon Humphrey to the outside. His yards per separation could have grown, but an under thrown ball from Stafford in a tough pocket forces Jones to come back towards the ball. Still, while Humphrey is playing Jones, Jones is playing the ball and coming down with the big catch.

Stafford throws this ball deep, ensuring that the cornerback has no chance at it. Jones tracks it down, extends his arms and makes the splash play.

The play below is the ultimate case of Marvin Jones seeing the ball. The ball is deflected by the linebacker, forcing Jones to stop where he is going and come back to make the catch.

On passes that could have been incompletions and turned into big plays by Jones, he has amounted to five receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown.

Contested Catches

Being able to see the ball in this way gives him the ability to make contested catches. Contested catches are devastating because there is nothing the defense could do. Jones was just the best player on the field for that particular play.

Xavier Rhodes was seeing arguments to be the best cornerback in the NFL when Marvin Jones burnt him up on Thanksgiving. Stafford does not care who Xavier Rhodes is, he knows who Marvin Jones is as Jones comes down with a big first down.

This has been the highlight of Jones’ year, and the moment in which the national audience noticed what Jones was. He s double covered by the best pass defense in the NFL. It just did not matter, Jones, the elite splash player was elite in his role and made the contested catch for a touchdown.

Ken Crawley has been a decent find for the New Orleans Saints this season and did not give Marvin Jones an inch on this route. It did not matter how much separation Jones had, Stafford trusted his guy to make the splash and he did, hauling in the touchdown.

On contested catches, Jones hauled in eight passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns.

Extending Plays

Another way in which Jones can punch teams in the gut is by making plays out of structure with Stafford. When the play breaks down, and Stafford rolls out of the pocket, Jones is ready to break open a big one. In the play below, he turns to Stafford and sees him rolling out. Jones is in-sync with Stafford and breaks free for another devastating gain.

On extended plays, Jones hauled in three receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Between extended plays, contested catches and adjusted receptions, Jones put up 16 receptions for 441 yards and five touchdowns.

That is 31.4% of his receptions turning into 50% of his yards and 63% of his touchdowns. It is safe to say he is making the most of these plays, and that is why they are so painful.


When you can put that many yards and that many touchdowns on the stat sheet on so few receptions, it begins to demand respect. There is the “any given moment” feeling that Jones can explode for the big one the very second you relax.

This has also earned him the respect of defenders. He uses this respect to put up a majority of the rest of his receptions, turning them into cheap yards. In the plays highlighted below he is just taking advantage of the fear of being the next highlight reel reception for a game changing play.

Overall, even with perfect defense, Jones can explode. Still, the Bears have to gameplan to limit these big plays as much as possible. 60% of his targets have come from lining up on the left side. That means Prince Amukamara. Given the recent play of Kyle Fuller, and the fact that Jones is usually over there anyways, it is likely the Lions are going to try Jones on that side a lot.

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Eddie Jackson is going to have to shade to the side of Jones which is going to call for another big effort out of Kyle Fuller on Golden Tate.

Maybe Marvin Jones is Klay Thompson more than he is Steph Curry. It still means you have to draw defenders out to the three point line, opening up the inside for easier shots. The same idea can be applied to Marvin Jones, and what he can do on a football field.