One thing that made Matthew Stafford so much fun to watch when he was the Detroit Lions quarterback was the way he manipulated defenders with his eyes and often made jaw-dropping, no-look passes.
On Wednesday morning, former Lions quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky was cutting up Lions tape and noticed a play from Jared Goff this past week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that looked like something taken right from Stafford’s arsenal.
The play: a third-and-4 from the Lions’ own 33-yard line in the third quarter. The Lions are only up 10-6 at the time, and this drive would eventually end up resulting in a Jameson Williams touchdown that essentially put the game away.
As Orlovsky points out, Goff’s first reads are towards the bottom of the screen. Brock Wright was thoroughly covered by a Bucs linebacker and the checkdown to Craig Reynolds has virtually no chance of a conversion.
Goff quickly diagnoses that, and turns his attention to his left, where there is far more promise.
Josh Reynolds runs a curl right at the sticks and is open, but Goff is clearly concerned that Bucs linebacker Devin White has had enough time to close on that route. Could he have made that throw to Josh Reynold’s back shoulder and picked up the first down? Probably, but White is a talented linebacker with decent closing speed... and Goff wanted more.
So he looks directly at Reynolds, gets White to break towards that route, opening up a small, but clear hole for Amon-Ra St. Brown’s 10-yard dig route.
At the last second, Goff turns his head toward St. Brown (technically negating it as a true “no-look pass”), and sidearms a bullet with a defender right in his face, directly in between two defenders.
Credit St. Brown for absorbing a big hit and holding onto the ball, but Goff should get plenty of credit for diagnosing the play quickly, making an incredible throw, and manipulating the defense to his will.
Orlovsky does a great job breaking down that play, another third-down conversion to Kalif Raymond, and the 45-yard bomb to Jameson Williams. Check it out below: