There’s no doubt that Jared Goff is under an immense amount of pressure. 2022 is a big year for him. Without question, it’s a make-or-break type of season for him. The Detroit Lions have an out in his contract after the 2022 season, and if he doesn’t show up and show out, the Lions could easily move on from him and begin their search for their quarterback of the future.
Will Goff indeed show up and show out? Or will he buckle under of the pressure?
Expectations heading into 2021
The expectations for Goff weren’t too high going into the 2021 season. After 12 years of Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff’s arrival via trade felt like nothing more than transitional thing. Despite the Lions insisting otherwise, Jared Goff felt like a placeholder and was commonly referred to as a bridge quarterback.
Goff was expected to struggle in Detroit after a rough finish with the Rams. Not only was he playing for a new team that had been seemingly stripped down to spare parts, but he was playing in a brand new offense with a new head coach after not dealing with much change in his career. Some were hopeful that a divorce from Sean McVay—a coach who had clearly lost all faith in him—would be a good career move for Goff, but few actually believed 2021 would be a successful year for him.
Actual role in 2021
2021 stats: 14 games (14 starts): 332-of-494 (67.2%) for 3,245 yards (6.6 Y/A), 19 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 91.5 passer rating
PFF Grade: 60.7 (22nd out of 27 qualifying QBs — minimum 440 snaps)
As predicted, Goff struggled early. He didn’t just regular struggle, he struggled mightily. Before the bye week Goff had turned the ball over10 times, refused to throw the deep ball and just looked genuinely terrified out there. He was uncomfortable in the pocket, failing to find lanes to step up into and often running himself into trouble. This was a big part of his 22 sacks that he took during this time. Some Lions fans were begging for Malik Willis by the bye week.
Then everything changed. Dan Campbell took over play calling on offense, and Jared Goff looked like a completely different quarterback. He cut down on the turnovers, going from 10 his first seven starts, to just four in his final seven. He stood tall in the pocket and stopped running backwards and spinning out (sacks dropped from 2.75 per game pre bye week to 2.2).
Goff’s play stood out to the rest of league and he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after the Lions got their first win of the season in a 29-27 last-second win over the Vikings. Statistically, Goff was one of the best quarterbacks down the stretch, starting on Thanksgiving:
Jared Goff Week 12-18:
- Passer rating: 107.1 (third best)
- Completion percentage: 69.6 (fourth)
- TD%: 6.8 (4th)
- INT%: 1.2 (8th)
- Y/A: 7.1 (16th)
- PFF grade: 62.5 (17th)
He was able to accomplish that without T.J. Hockenson for five games, no D’Andre Swift for four games, no Frank Ragnow at all, and with his top three receivers being Josh Reynolds, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Kalif Raymond.
Outlook for 2022
The team seems to be all in on Goff at this point. They’ve heavily invested in getting him new weapons, and they are tailoring the offense to his desires and strengths. Things could change, but he’s their guy right now.
Goff is now set up with a talented receiving corps in DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, T.J. Hockenson, D’Andre Swift and Josh Reynolds. He’ll have a fully healthy offensive line in front of him and a running game that showed promise last year and should be able to keep defenses honest.
It’s safe to say that the outlook for Goff is that he should show much improvement after a pretty bad season. He has the weapons and the coaching staff to succeed. Now it’s on him to make sure that he does. Early signs out of Detroit’s offseason program are promising, as Lions quarterback coach Mark Brunell recently raved about him during OTAs.
“When I say he’s had an excellent spring, I’m not kidding,” Brunell said. “He really has done very well with this, with the learning. His work ethic. He comes out here and he works. He puts the time in. It’s very, very important to him, and just his ability to throw the ball. He has an elite arm talent, and it’s been fun to watch. I think he’s in a great place right now, just from last year to this year.
“I would say, I’d say his confidence is at an all-time high. I really would. I mean, he is the leader of this offense, leader of this team. He is in command when he’s out there. He understands what we’re trying to do. He’s done very well. It’s the best best place I’ve ever seen him.”
At only 27 years old, a solid season from Goff could earn him the long-term job here in Detroit. I, for one, think he has the talent and the structure around him to do just that.