With only two games left in the Detroit Lions’ 2021 season, you can already sense the focus turning to the offseason. The Lions have a lot of work to do in improving their personnel despite a clear improvement in play over the last month of the season.
One of the hottest topics for the Lions is their plan at quarterback. Jared Goff struggled mightily at the beginning of the year, leading many to believe Detroit was going to have to find a new quarterback early in the 2022 NFL Draft class. However, there wasn’t a standout quarterback in college this year among eligible players, and despite Detroit closing in on a top-two pick, most aren’t predicting them to reach for a quarterback there.
To further complicate things, Goff appears to have turned a bit of a corner as of late. Take a look at his first nine starts of the season compared to the last four.
Goff’s first 9 games in Detroit: 220-of-333, 2,109 yards, 6.33 Y/A, 8 TDs, 6 INTs, 84.0 passer rating
Goff’s last 4 games in Detroit: 91-of-131, 898 yards, 6.85 Y/A, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 105.1 passer rating
With an improved offensive line, a change at play caller, the addition of Josh Reynolds and the emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Goff has turned not only into a serviceable quarterback over the past month, but potentially a good one.
Full game ... still pretty good! pic.twitter.com/3mgrLHhTJv— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) December 28, 2021
So it probably isn’t much of a surprise that when head coach Dan Campbell was asked on local radio station 97.1 The Ticket if Goff could be this team’s long-term quarterback, he expressed a fair amount of optimism.
Here’s the exact exchange:
Host: “Are you starting to feel like Goff can be a long-term quarterback for you in Detroit?”
Campbell: “Yeah, man, I don’t see why not. Look, he’s playing pretty good ball now. Shoot, he was coming off his best performance of the season and then, unfortunately, he had COVID and he kinda had the knee injury, so he had to sit out last week. But, yeah, there’s no reason why—I feel like we’re starting to find our rhythm here, and we’re all starting to mesh collectively, from a coaching staff to the players as well. Just maximizing everything we have over here, and I just feel like we’re really improving. I feel like we’re finding identities. So, yeah, I don’t see why not. Look, he puts in the work, and all you can ask is for improvement from him, too. So I like where he’s going right now.”
Of course, Campbell has to say that. He’s been very supportive of Goff all season, and there would be no reason for him to go public with any doubt he has over Goff’s long-term viability.
Whether he believes Goff is the long-term answer or not, the 27-year-old quarterback is likely to be in Detroit next year with a contract that is virtually unmovable and a potential dead cap that is just as big as if they decide to keep him. So with a high likelihood of Goff being the team’s starting quarterback again in 2022, of course Campbell is going to throw his full support behind Goff.
That being said, Goff has earned at least some degree of leniency given his most recent performances. He started the year under very tough circumstances—with a receiving corps depleted from even the one he practiced with in training camp—and an offensive line constantly being shuffled with injuries. But it is also tough to completely forgive Goff for some of the unforced errors he made throughout the first three months of the season.
We could be in for a very interesting offseason.