It’s really hard not to feel like you’ve been sold a bill of goods by Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions. All offseason you heard multiple great things about Goff and his confidence returning and how he has control over the team’s offense. In camp you saw him make some big plays just about every day, and he looked good in his very brief preseason performance, too. It all seemed too good to be true. On Sunday we found out that it might be.
Goff didn’t have the worst game you’ve ever seen. He finished the day with 215 yards and two touchdowns. What’s really bad is that he only completed 56.8 percent of his passes, and he threw an ugly pick six. Not to mention Goff was overthrowing like crazy and there were multiple occasions where it seemed like Goff and his receivers were not on the same page. This just cannot stand.
I wondered all offseason how Goff would handle the pressure of a pivotal season. The Lions can opt out of his contract at the end of this season. If it doesn’t work out this year, he’s gone and that’s that. And if he can’t make it here, it’s reasonable to wonder if he’ll ever truly get an opportunity as a starting quarterback in this league again. On Sunday, Goff showed the pressure might be too much for him.
Goff is now on the clock. That clock is ticking down to the end of Goff’s time in Detroit and his time as a starter. He’ll have to do a lot of work and some big things in order to get himself out of this hole. I’m not sure that he’ll be able to do it based off of everything we’ve seen from him.
This will ultimately propel the Lions into a scary part of the rebuild where they’ll have to go with a rookie quarterback and hope they get it right on the first try. Teams getting it wrong in the past has killed rebuilds in its tracks.
Why is this an overreaction?
It’s always a tale of two halves for Goff. In the first half of the Lions Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Goff went 7-of-15 for 53 yards and an interception. Definitely not a great outing. In the second half he had a much better go at it. Goff went 14-of-22 for 162 yards and two touchdowns, including this beautiful pass to DJ Chark.
In this week’s What Just Happened, I talked about the Lions overcoming adversity. The Lions got past some of the penalties that would have affected them in the past. They also got over a turnover that turned into a touchdown, and immediately went down field to score. Jared Goff was a big part of the Lions overcoming that adversity. It wasn’t his best game, but he didn’t let a really ugly interception affect his play. He immediately went downfield and eventually found Amon-Ra St. Brown in the end zone. This type of thing can’t go unnoticed. Goff is out here correcting himself. That’s a big deal.
It’s reasonable to wonder if Goff’s poor first half can be attributed to rust. The fact is that Goff hasn’t played a full game since January and his preseason play was limited to a single series one month ago. For what it’s worth, both Goff and coach Dan Campbell refuted that notion.
“No, I mean look, there was a couple of hiccups there, but that was a little bit of everybody,” Campbell said. “And as you know offensively, man, it only takes one guy to derail everything you’re doing.”
Goff was much more succinct when asked if his lack of playing time in the preseason impacted how he started the game.
“No,” Goff said.
There’s certainly a case that can be made there, though. When you’re not facing real pressure from real defenders, it’s just not the same. When your receivers are not running full speed, it’s not going to be the same when they’re out there in game situations. I know it seems like an excuse for Goff, but there’s some validity there.
Also, the Eagles defense is no slouch, especially in the pass game. The Eagles were 11th best team in the league when it comes to allowing pass yards in 2021. That unit, which already features one of the best corners in the game in former Lion Darius Slay, only got better over the offseason. It shouldn’t shock anyone that the Lions had trouble getting the pass game going.
There is plenty of season left. Goff still very much needs to put in the work, and he can’t continue to have games like this. Even if he works to better his performance down the stretch, Goff is still on that clock, but it’s still too early to definitively call it at this point.