The NFL is a tall league. It's a tired cliche, but it's being proven true every single week in a different way. The dichotomy of this was seen as the Detroit Lions played the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Rookie tight end Joseph Fauria snagged three touchdown passes by simply being taller and more physical than his defensive competition. On every score, he out-muscled linebackers and made plays, barely having to jump for passes. As a result, the Lions scored three times and used those big plays to put away the pesky Browns. Fauria is big, stocky 6'7".
Compare that with the performance of Patrick Edwards, who had his second straight rough week in traffic, and a polar opposite is seen. Edwards was targeted three times and didn't make a catch Sunday, failing to come up with tough passes around defenders. A week before, Edwards was targeted in the end zone against Green Bay, but was easily thrown aside. Edwards, it should be noted, is a thin, flimsy 5'9". With Ryan Broyles, Detroit already has a player with that skill set on the field, rendering Edwards an unnecessary body double.
Thankfully, the Lions finally realized the error of their ways. Monday, Edwards was cut after not being able to get the job done. Signed in his place was Dorin Dickerson, another gargantuan tight end with 6'2" size who's got the ability to stretch the field. With Calvin Johnson (6'5"), Kris Durham (6'6"), Brandon Pettigrew (6'5"), Fauria and now Dickerson, suddenly, Detroit is threatening to have the tallest, most physical receiving group in the league.
Matthew Stafford has to love it. All he must do is throw the ball up like a point guard feeding a big man in the paint and he'll find a size advantage nearly everywhere on the field. In a league which is trying hard to find bigger defensive backs to counter, Detroit suddenly has a big advantage. Not only do they have the size, they've got some speed with Reggie Bush over the middle and underneath.
The move's brilliance was not so much adding Dickerson, an unproven commodity himself, but rather the realization that Edwards had a small, thin body and just couldn't match up over the middle of the field against bigger defensive backs. A player like Dickerson has the size and hands to make plays in traffic, and as Fauria has shown, as long as a receiver has that, he can become a viable threat no matter where he comes from.
A minor roster alteration in the middle of October usually doesn't mean much, but in looking at the philosophical impact of this move, it's refreshing to note that finally, size does matter to the Lions' offense.
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