I never thought this would happen. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted it to. I was an early Jared Goff believer. I didn’t see how a former first overall pick would come to the Detroit Lions and just be a mess like so many believed he would. For a while there, I thought I had really missed the mark on Goff. I had good reason to think that, too. HE was really bad in the first half of the season. It felt like Goff was bad enough to be the worst starting quarterback in the league.
After the Steelers game, it looked like it was over. Jared Goff went out there and barely threw the ball in the rain while dealing with an injured. Almost every Lions fans had seen enough. Goff had to go, and the Lions were going to use a first-round pick on a quarterback. Then something happened.
Goff was suddenly getting good. Not just sort of good, but like, pretty good. Since the bye week, Jared Goff has gone off and has looked not just a competent starter, but a good starter. Just look at pre and post-bye week Jared Goff:
Pre-bye week (8 games): 66.9% completions, 6.5 Y/A, 1,995 yards, 8 TDs, 6 INTs, 85.3 passer rating
Post-bye week (6 games): 67.7% completions, 6.7 Y/A, 1,250 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs, 101.8 passer rating
Also, all of Detroit’s wins came after the bye week, and the offense’s points per game in Jared Goff-started games went from 16.5 before Week 9 to 22.7 in Goff’s final six games. -
But second-half Goff wasn’t just good compared to first-half Goff. He was putting up competitive numbers to the rest of the NFL.
Since Week 12, Jared Goff is....— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) January 10, 2022
-3rd in the NFL in passer rating (107.1)
- 4th in comp. % (69.6%)
- 11th in passing TDs (11)
- t-2nd in fewest INTs (2)
- 6th in adjusted yards/attempt (7.86)
So what’s the difference? It has to be the play calling. There’s no coincidence that Goff’s improvement directly correlates to Dan Campbell taking over the play calling duties from Anthony Lynn. Sometimes it’s that simple. Jared Goff and Anthony Lynn didn’t mesh well together. Either that or Lynn just didn’t have faith or trust in his guys. The Lions offense went from a team that was throwing short passes and running the ball on third and long to a team that’s winging the pig and getting non-stop creative with the ball. Most of all, this new play calling has allowed Goff to get his confidence back. He sorely needed that after falling out with Sean McVay last season and the trade.
If Dan Campbell is the ignition that got this thing turned on, Jared Goff has been the engine that’s making it go. While Goff may not be a turbo-charged V8, that doesn't mean he can’t be a nice four banger that gets you from Point A to Point B. My lack of car knowledge is probably showing right now. I’m not really sure what I just said.
Let’s say it another way. By no means is Goff a top-tier quarterback, but it’s not crazy to suggest that he could work his way into the fringe top-10 discussion next year. If that’s too high, maybe Goff can be a just above Baker Mayfield or something like that. The point I’m trying to make is that he can just be fine.
Goff still needs some work, and that’s okay. Perhaps Goff could go see a quarterback guru this offseason. Matthew Stafford worked with one after the 2016 season and it paid off. Stafford was 29 at the time. Goff is still only 27.
Goff needs to work on his throwing mechanics a bit and just tighten up that spiral. Even on Goff’s best throws, the ball looks a bit wobbly. We did see some improvements with Goff’s mechanics this year, like with his pocket presence. Though he should probably shed the spin out move that isn't working.
Maybe he can just spend time working with his quarterbacks coach, former Pro Bowler Mark Brunell. I still believe that we haven't seen Goff’s best work yet and that these things could help him.
Another thing that could help Goff is to have a healthy squad around him. The Lions will have Frank Ragnow back next season to go with Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. With Jonah Jackson taking some Year 2 strides and Halapoulivaati Vaitai looking more natural at guard, Detroit’s offensive line—at full health—could be among the league’s best next year.
We’ve seen that when Goff has time, he can do damage. He’ll also have T.J. Hockenson back as well as D’Andre Swift. If the Lions go out and get some more skill players to throw to, this Lions offense could be scary.
The good news is that with Goff’s recent play, the world has opened up for the Lions to achieve the last part of that last paragraph. The Lions don’t have to get in on the quarterback market this offseason. The draft class isn’t that great for it anyways, and the free agent market isn't either. The Lions can use their picks and their money on building the team around Goff and give him the chance to really show that he can be more than the guy right now, he can be the guy for the long haul.
The Lions really lose nothing here if this doesn’t work out. They have an out in Goff’s contract after the 2022 season, and the quarterback draft class is looking really good that offseason.
The Lions are in good shape with Jared Goff and fans should be excited to see where this goes. I totally get if you’re still skeptical, but you shouldn’t be.