Earlier in the week, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell made it pretty clear he was impressed with the season quarterback Jared Goff had and believes in him for the future. On Tuesday, it was Lions general manager Brad Holmes’ turn to back the franchise quarterback.
“I think what Jared has done this year, he captained the ship of a top-three offense, and I want to say he was top-10 statistically in most of the passing categories,” Holmes said.
From the minute the Lions landed Goff in a trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Goff and a couple of first round picks (and more), Holmes has thrown his full support behind him. Holmes was part of the Rams' front office that drafted Goff with the first overall pick in 2016. Seeing him develop there over five seasons gave Holmes the confidence that Goff would emerge as the successful quarterback he was back in his Pro Bowl 2017 and 2018 seasons—even though his Lions career got off to a tumultuous start.
“I was always confident in him because I’ve been with him from the get-go when he was drafted back when I was with LA,” Holmes said. “I just kinda know how resilient and tough he is. I think a lot of it was me knowing all the success he had in LA. I think that was forgotten about a little bit when he got here. And I think he was put in a tough situation (in 2021).”
Last season, Goff threw just 19 touchdowns and averaged only 6.6 yards per pass attempt—both career lows as a full-time starter. However, the Lions' receiver room was depleted last year, the offensive line was hit with a few key injuries, and midway through the season, the Lions demoted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn when it was clear his vision didn’t align with head coach Dan Campbell.
Knowing that Goff had the mental fortitude to weather the tough times, Holmes made a deal with his quarterback: we’ll get you a supporting cast. You ball all out when the time comes.
“I respect the hell out of him, because I told him, ‘Look, we’ll hold up our end of the bargain. We’re being held accountable. We’ve got to put you in the right situation with right pieces around you, (and) stability on offense,’” Holmes said. “I felt like we did that, and he held up his end of the bargain. I think it just worked out. I didn’t really have any doubt or waver. I never really deemed him as a bridge. I think everybody else did, but I think it’s a little bit of the recency bias from what he had to go through last year.”
Holmes got him the weapons (DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds) and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson provided the stability. When the team finally got healthy at receiver by Thanksgiving, Goff did the rest.
Among all @NFL QBs since the start of December, @Lions QB @JaredGoff16 ranks:— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) January 7, 2023
- 1st in passer rating (113.0)
- 1st in INTs (0)
- t-1st in passing TDs (12)
- 2nd in yards/attempt (8.11)
- 2nd in passing 1st downs (82)
- t-2nd in 25+ yard passes (12)
- 3rd in passing yards (1,532) pic.twitter.com/q5pcULjsOE
So when Holmes was asked if Goff played well enough to eliminate quarterback as a need with the sixth overall pick, he dropped a profound line.
“I think it’s a lot easier to get worse at quarterback than to get better at quarterback in this league,” Holmes said.
That said, Holmes did leave the tiniest of holes open for the possibility to change his mind.
“We’re never going to turn down a good football player. So if it’s a football player we really love, we’re gonna make sure every stone is unturned, but I do think that Jared has proven to everybody that he is a starting quarterback for us.”