This week’s SB Nation Reacts surveys focused on two reoccurring questions that we have asked throughout the 2022-23 season:
- Are you still confident the Detroit Lions are headed in the right direction? (asked weekly)
- Is Jared Goff the Lions’ quarterback of the future? (asked quarterly)
Let’s start with the weekly poll. At the low point of the Lions' season, they were 1-6 and just 47% of fans believed in the direction of the team. But after a steady climb over the final 10 games, the Lions went 8-2 down the stretch, and confidence grew with every win. In fact, the Lions have been receiving approval percentages over 90% since Week 11 and entered Week 18, with 98% of fans confident in the team.
Now, after ending the Packers’ postseason hopes in the season finale and vanquishing Aaron Rodgers to the locker room to sulk, Lions fans’ confidence the team is headed in the right direction pushed all the way up to 99%.
That’s a heck of a way to enter the offseason.
Ok, let’s get to the reason most fans opened this article: After 17 games, is Jared Goff the Lions’ quarterback of the future?
This a topic that has divided the Lions fan base since Goff arrived in Detroit ahead of the 2021 season. Most people viewed Goff as a “bridge” quarterback to hold down the fort until the new regime arrived on their next great signal caller.
Following 2021, Goff had begun to change some minds after helping the Lions win three of their last six games—they were actually 3-1 in the games he played in over that time—but many remained skeptical.
Goff started the season out hot and led the Lions' offense to some remarkable numbers. After four games, we asked Lions fans their thoughts about his future with the organization and 70% of fans believed Goff was indeed the Lions’ quarterback of the future.
Then things took a turn for the Lions and their offense struggled during the next stretch of games. So after eight games, with the Lions now 2-6, we once again asked our question, and unsurprisingly his approval plummeted and just 18% of fans believed Goff was the answer.
But as the Lions' season began to swing in the right direction, so did Goff’s status in Lions fans' minds. After 12 games, with a 5-7 record, fans began to return to the quarterback’s side and 66% of Lions fans were back in support of Goff.
Now, with the season complete, we needed to ask the question once again, and as always, we took a step back to look at how Goff statistically produced throughout the season:
Note: Blue = Top 5 ranking, Green = Top 10, Yellow = Top 20, Pink = Not in top 20
As you can see, Goff saved his best performances for the final stretch and the team responded in kind. As the Lions made their way to 9-8, like with the team itself, fans are supporting Goff at the highest rate of the season.
After a remarkable finish to the 2022 season, a whopping 89% of fans believe Goff is the team’s quarterback of the future.
At coach Dan Campbell’s end-of-season press conference, he expressed confidence in Goff, noting that when the (Week 18) Packers game was on the line, it was an easy choice to put the ball in Goff’s hands to make a play and win the game.
“He’s been the guy that’s played lights out for the back half of the season, really all season,” Campbell said. “He just had some things, some bumps, like all of us did early in the year. Let’s put the onus on him, man. Let’s let him win this for us and he did that.”
As far as Goff’s future with the team, Campbell said he’s exactly what they want at the position.
“He fits us,” Campbell said. “We’re about running the football, play action pass, and when you do those things you need a quarterback that can get you in the right play and is very good at accuracy. Throwing the football, decision making, and he fits the bill on all of that. I mean, it was a hell of a year by him. He’s one of the biggest reasons we even got this turnaround, just his decision-making, taking care of the football.”
General manager Brad Holmes has made it clear over his time in Detroit that he will turn over every stone to find the right players to make the Lions a better football team. And while he did leave the door open to include using a draft pick on a quarterback, there were two statements made during his end-of-season press conference that stood out.
- “I think it’s a lot easier to get worse at quarterback than to get better at quarterback in this league.”
- “I do think that Jared has proven to everybody that he is a starting quarterback for us.”
So, what will happen with the Lions' quarterback spot? We could get our answer if Goff gets a contract extension this offseason. Whether Holmes drafts a quarterback or not this year will also be a telling sign.
But there is one thing that seems very clear, no matter what happens this offseason, Goff should be the quarterback of the Lions in 2023, and quite frankly, he deserves it.
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