(Photo by MLive.com)
As Anquan Boldin reunites with his former coach from the Baltimore Ravens, Jim Caldwell, it might be natural for people to be interested in his production with the Detroit Lions. In Caldwell’s work with Boldin, the thirteen-year veteran caught seven passes for 93 yards in two regular season games and twenty-two passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns in four games during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run. He remarkably caught sixty-nine passes on one hundred eleven targets after dealing with maligned quarterback play from Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick while slowing down more with the San Francisco 49ers.
Boldin has ever been considered a burner. But, even as a receiver that has used physicality as a means of getting open, he has worsened against the line of scrimmage and thus been strictly relegated to the slot. Such a fact is interesting considering that Golden Tate has been known to take part in the same position. If Tate has to move outside for Boldin to go in, it is possible that he can finally get back to catching over 10.0 yards per reception as he did in his first five years.
Which brings us to Boldin’s upcoming production. Optimism stays high in Detroit as offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter enters his first full season on the job. During the Lions’ latter nine-game stretch with Cooter, quarterback Matthew Stafford posted a 105.1 passer rating by completing 69 percent of his passes for 2396 yards and twenty touchdowns versus four interceptions.
Even though Calvin Johnson has left for retirement, Stafford’s production can be picked up by Tate and newcomer Marvin Jones. In addition, Boldin can get targets if little attention is kept on him. Three of the four leading wide receivers and tight ends caught at least 64 percent of Stafford’s passes while Johnson caught 55.6 percent. With Ebron, Tate, and Johnson having averaged at least four targets per game, Bolden is likely to get somewhere in that range. Unfortunately, this might mean that tight end Eric Ebron will have to sacrifice as the pass protection and run blocking is still maligned while Boldin is better in the passing game than Ebron.
Based on the Lions’ last nine games, Boldin would average 4.67 targets per game, and with his catching percentage of 62.1 percent and 11.4 yards per reception, he would garner 46 passes for 529 yards. Many could blame San Francisco’s quarterback situation for Boldin getting just four touchdowns, but, the last time I checked, it is reasonable for a thirty five-year-old’s touchdowns equal 3.6 percent of his targets.
Such production in 2016 would be no surprise as it is unmanageable for third-string receivers to catch over 500 yards anyways. Stafford is not a quarterback like Peyton Manning or Kurt Warner in which he could help a third-string receiver gain 1000 yards like latter two respectively did with Brandon Stokley in 2004 and Steve Breaston in 2008.
The odds of Boldin getting the projected production looks slim with father-time being undefeated, but nothing can be ruled out with the offense under Cooter. As someone whose nine games have outshined the twenty-three under predecessor Joe Lombardi, optimism can remain for the receiver entering his 14th season.
Regardless, Boldin has had a fine career as someone that was ruled out for running a 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds and could be considered for the Hall of Fame if he extends his career further. However, with a crowded receiving corps and age not being on his side, he still has to make the team in order to extend the greatness that we have become familiar with.