When watching the Detroit Lions, it’s evident that a huge focal point to their offense is wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. That’s been clear since his arrival in Detroit.
Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, St. Brown has compiled 196 receptions for 2,073 yards and 11 touchdowns. One of the most unforgotten stats or accomplishments for St. Brown is that he became the youngest receiver in Lions’ franchise history to accumulate 1,00 receiving yards in a single season.
It’s clear that he’s one of the best and most consistent players on this Lions team. That remained to be true after the first week of the 2023 season for St. Brown and the Lions. In the Lions win over the Chiefs, he recorded six receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Let’s jump into the tape and go over some of the best receptions from St. Brown in his season debut against the Chiefs.
Starting with the play above, the Lions come out in a 2 x 2 set on the left hash. With the Chiefs showing a single high safety look, it’s evident that man coverage out of the Cover 1 defense is likely from them.
For St. Brown, he’s aligned in the slot at the top of the formation and he runs a choice route after the ball is snapped. These choice routes are common in the Lions offense and most of the time, it’s the technically sound and efficient St. Brown running those routes.
Once the ball is snapped, St. Brown looks like he’s going to run vertically or out towards the sideline but after about 4 or 5 yards into his route, he reads the cornerback that is covering him and he breaks towards the sideline. Now there’s a choice for St. Brown to continue vertically or break out towards the sideline but he ends up breaking this route to the middle of the field and it leads to a completion and a first down.
On the next play, the Lions come out in 21 personnel (two running backs and one tight end) with an I-formation set. Before the snap, they put Brock Wright (Lions tight end 89) in motion but then motion him back to his original alignment.
After the snap, Jared Goff fakes the run, steps up in the pocket and finds St. Brown over the middle on the deep crosser. This pass was a 21-yard gain on 2nd-and-7 and it helped extend Detroit’s drive into Kansas City territory. Ultimately, this drive stalled in the red-zone after the Marvin Jones fumble on 3rd down.
Going back to another 2 x 2 set for the Lions, we’ll see a stick concept ran by the Lions to the wide side of the field. At the bottom of the screen, St. Brown is aligned in the slot and outside of the numbers is starting tight end Sam LaPorta. As for the Chiefs defense, they’re showing a cover 2 defense with both safeties patrolling inside the 10-yard line for any route that is ran into that part of the field.
Once the ball is snapped, LaPorta pushes vertically and runs towards the end-zone. Meanwhile, St. Brown runs the 5-yard stick route where he gets 5 yards downfield and then plants his inside foot into the ground and turns back towards the quarterback.
Despite having a linebacker with a hook/curl drop in coverage and a cornerback coming up into flats coverage, St. Brown is still able to secure the catch. These types of plays are sustainable for a Lions passing attack that have no issues find success in the short and intermediate areas of the field.
The last play I want to cover is the Lions first touchdown of the season. While the Lions are aligned in another 2 x 2 set offensively, it’s a bunch set on both sides of the formation.
For the Lions, they have St. Brown on the outside of the formation but they’re prepared to have him drag all the way across the field and towards the middle. In the process, Marvin Jones (aligned next to St. Brown), pushes up field on what looks to be a fade route but it’s essentially a pick play. This slows down the cornerback matched up with St. Brown and it allows him to run freely over the middle.
As the play develops, Jared Goff works right and then back towards the middle where it looks like he’s expecting St. Brown to be open. Despite a defender trailing him, Goff delivers the pass to St. Brown and with great effort, he’s able to run through arm tackles and score a touchdown.
Throughout his career, Amon-Ra St. Brown has been a steady contributor for this Lions offense. While he may have been a fourth round pick, he’s proving his worth every single training camp and every single game. He seems destined for a contract extension that should keep him in Detroit for the foreseeable future. With his consistency and strong start to this season, St. Brown has earned the right to be in the conversation as one of the best receivers in the NFL.