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Does Jared Goff truly struggle on the road in the cold?

A deep dive into Jared Goff’s road stats along with his performance in cold games .

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Jets Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Goff is playing the best football of his career lately. I know that might not seem right because he had a killer 2018 season in which he was in the MVP conversation for a minute. But he’s playing better than that right now. At the very least, he’s at least on par with that season.

Goff was already playing well, but this stretch that he’s on in the last seven games has been big. So big that he’s thrown for 1,700 yards, 11 touchdowns, and just one interception in that time. That interception by the way, that was quite a while ago. Goff has thrown 219 consecutive passes without throwing a pick. That’s the longest streak of any quarterback in the league right now.

Still, there’s been a lot of questions about where and when he gets his stats on the board. Particularly when it comes to being home and away. Even deeper than that, there’s concerns that Jared Goff isn’t good when he’s outside and it’s cold.

Let’s start at home. The bulk of his production has happened there. Goff has thrown for 2,217 yards, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions at home. On the road he’s thrown for 1,387 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. There’s reason to be a little concerned about his production on the road for sure, but there may be some things to consider here.

Let’s look at the teams the Detroit Lions have played on the road so far and their current rank in pass defensive DVOA, and match it up with Goff’s production in those games.

  1. Vikings: 27th (25-of-41, 277 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 79.0 passer rating)
  2. Patriots: 3rd (19-of-35, 229 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 62.7 passer rating)
  3. Cowboys: 4th (21-of-26, 228 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs, 71.2 passer rating)
  4. Bears: 30th (19-of-26, 236 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 113.6 passer rating)
  5. Giants: 24th (17-of-26, 165 yards, 0 TD, 0 INTs, 83.0 passer rating)
  6. Jets: 6th (23-of-38, 252 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 88.9 passer rating)

As you can see, there’s a pretty clear correlation between performance and strength of defense. His worst games were against some of the tougher defenses, and he was still able to perform at a high level against bad defenses. On top of that, he was missing Amon-Ra St. Brown (after an early exit), D’Andre Swift and DJ Chark against the Cowboys. Swift and Chark also missed the Patriots game. St. Brown and Josh Reynolds were battling ankle injuries in the second half against the Vikings after Goff had lit up that defense in the first half (17-of-24, 179 yards, 1 TD, 106.1 passer rating).

He’s also far from the only quarterback that’s struggling on the road. Kirk Cousins has thrown 7 of his 11 interceptions on the road. Aaron Rodgers has thrown eight of his 10 outside of Lambeau. It’s not easy to play on the road.

As far as being out in the cold, we can’t really answer that question yet because Goff has really only played two games out in the cold. Both of them were in New York. Otherwise he played two indoor games against the Vikings and the Cowboys and one 60 degree day game in New England.

Goff did not light up the stat sheet in either of those cold games. Maybe there’s something to that. Again, it’s hard to play on the road, and the Lions were really trying to rely on their run game in both of those games. The Lions are averaging 28 rush attempts per game this season. They had 28 attempts against the Jets, but they had a season-high 37 against the Giants. It seems clear that the Lions weren’t trying to use Goff too much in these games. He had a season low 26 passing attempts against the Giants. Now, he did have 38 attempts against the Jets. So the Lions were trying to be balanced in that game. I think it’s fair to say that Goff wasn’t too bad there considering he was playing the sixth best defense in the league.

Over his career, Goff’s indoor/outdoor splits show a slight difference in performance, but not quite as stark as some people seem to be suggesting (Note: not including games with retractable roofs, but it’s unclear if the roof was open or closed):

Indoor (30 games): 66.35 comp. %, 7.1 Y/A, 48 TDs, 18 INTs, 94.9 passer rating
Outdoor (59 games): 62.3 comp. %, 7.5 Y/A, 89 TDs, 48 INTs, 89.9 passer rating

Outside of a higher interception rate outdoors, there really isn’t a noticeable difference. As far as the cold goes, there’s a really small sample size of Goff playing in the cold with Rams. He only played five games where the temperature was below 40 degrees, Here’s what he did, along with the defensive DVOA rankings for each team.

  1. Titans: 23rd (22-of-39, 286 yards, 4 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 115.4 passer rating)
  2. Broncos: 6th (14-of-28, 174 yards, 0 TD’s, 1 INT, 58.8 passer rating)
  3. Bears: 1st (21-of-45, 162 yards, 0 TD’s, 4 INT’s, 21.3 passer rating)
  4. Seahawks: 16th (12-of-25, 169 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 86.1 passer rating)
  5. Packers: 17th ( 21-of-27, 1 TD, 0 INT, 105.9 passer rating)

Basically what we learn here is something we already knew. It’s hard to play against good defenses in their building. Goff struggled against the Bears and Broncos defenses in 2018, but so did everyone else. When playing a middling or bad defense, Goff did what you’re supposed to do. He played well. Still, with the small sample sizes, it’s hard to really know how Goff plays plays in the cold. From what we’ve seen, it hasn’t been elite, but it hasn’t been horrible either,

Goff does need to be better, especially if the Lions make the playoffs, as they will be playing on the road. He should have a chance to do well with the upcoming slate. By pass defense DVOA, here’s where Detroit’s last three opponents rank:

Panthers: 21st
Bears (at home): 30th
Packers: 8th

He’ll even get a chance to prove that he can play in the cold, too. It’s slated to be 31 degrees in Charlotte on Saturday. It’ll likely be much colder than that in Green Bay in Week 18.

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