I was wrong. When the Lions traded Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and some draft picks a at the beginning of the year, I looked at Goff as a guy who would be perfect for this role. The role of the rebuild quarterback. I felt he could come in as a leader who has played in big games and a guy who was possibly shafted a bit by his former team.
After doing some film study on Goff, It looked to me that maybe we hadn’t fully seen the best of Jared Goff just yet. Well, I was wrong. We saw the best. It was in 2018 and he’ll probably never get back to that point.
I don’t know what’s wrong with Goff. Here’s a guy that used to throw the ball deep better than many quarterbacks in the league. In 2018, he was very accurate on deep throws. He completed 42.1% of his deep passes. That was ninth in the league. He also ranked 11th in deep ball passer rating that season with a 99.1 rate. What happened? Last week we learned he’s dead last in the league at air yard completions. His average pass was caught at 3.3 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Is it a confidence issue? I’m not sure. Goff just does not throw the ball long anymore. At this point his longest completed pass was a 46-yard pass to Quintez Cephus against the Packers. Otherwise it’s been short pass after short pass.
When he’s not checking down, he’s over throwing guys or throwing the ball across his body into large groups of players. I just can’t figure out what Goff is doing out there. Whatever it is, it’s hurting the Detroit Lions.
Which is why the Lions should move on from Goff after the season, at least as their starter. Obviously Goff has a big contract that will be tough for the Lions to get out of. Unless, of course, they want to throw some more cash on that dead money pile. If the Lions were to part way with Goff after the season, they’d get hit with $30 million in dead cap. So that’s not happening. The Lions’ first out with Goff comes after the 2022 season they’d only incur a $10 million dead cap hit (and save $20.6 million in cap space) .
I don’t expect either of those situations to happen. The Lions are likely to stick with Goff for at least three years, but that doesn’t mean he has to be the starter. At this rate, as the Lions are only one of two winless teams left, there’s a good chance they’ll be selecting in the top five of next year's draft. Perhaps they’ll be all in on Liberty’s Malik Willis or Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. The Lions could very well be the next team to transfer the quarterback privileges over to a rookie.
Why it’s an overreaction
Okay, now let’s just calm down for second here and have an opposite reaction. Yes Jared Goff is struggling. There’s no doubt about that, but can we properly evaluate Goff right now? Is it fair?
Goff has perhaps the league's worst receiving corps. At the very least, they’re the most inexperienced. Kalif Raymond was mostly a return man for much of his career, KhaDarel Hodge’s career high in receptions in a season was 11 when he got here, Trinity Benson never played in a regular season game, Tyrell Williams is on IR and Quintez Cephus is just now starting to get real opportunities. How can you accurately judge a guy with a receiving corps like this? Can Goff trust any of them? His lack of trust would certainly explain why he telegraphs his reads to veteran players so often.
Goff, like everyone else on this team, is also learning a brand new offense. He’s played in the same system his entire career. Some slack has to be given, especially since this is the first time in his NFL career that the entire offense really rests on his shoulders. With the Rams, he had an NFL MVP candidate running back in Todd Gurley and plenty of receivers. Now he has to be the guy has to make players better. Maybe we should give him a little more time to settle in. Maybe we should give Goff some time with good receivers. It could make all the difference in the world.
Still, right now it’s hard to see Goff being anything more than a transitional quarterback. We’ll see where it goes from here. Maybe he’ll prove us wrong.