For the second week in a row, the Detroit Lions didn’t play like a team battling for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. After escaping Ford Field with a victory against the Chicago Bears in Week 11, the Lions came out on the losing side of things in their Thanksgiving Day tilt with the Green Bay Packers—a game where Detroit was favored by as many as 8 points at one time before kickoff.
As we’ll do every week throughout the season for this Lions team, we’ll comb through some of the advanced data courtesy of PFF that can help us better understand the football the Lions have played thus far—and what to look forward to in the coming weeks. Let’s take a closer look at the Lions by the numbers after their disappointing loss to the Packers in Week 12.
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5.5% turnover-worthy play rate
This week, we’re zeroing in on one stat and it’s the obvious: Jared Goff has to stop turning over the football.
It was unreasonable to expect him to continue with the kind of ball security he displayed over the final ten games of last season—just one interception, three fumbles (one lost)—but there were some reasons to be concerned about Goff coming into 2023 when you looked at the totality of his season last year. In 2022, Goff ranked eighth among quarterbacks in turnover-worthy play rate (3.6%) and finished third in total turnover-worthy plays (24)—a PFF statistic that measures passes that “have a high percentage chance to be intercepted or a poor job of taking care of the ball and fumbling.” During that aforementioned 10-game stretch in 2022, Goff toned down the TWP% (3.0%) and only had 11 TWPs, but those numbers pale in comparison to the impressive start he had over the first nine games of 2023: Goff’s TWP% (1.7%) and TWPs (6) were the best marks of any starting quarterback in the NFL.
However, in these past two weeks, regression has hit Goff hard, and his lack of ball security has become the single biggest issue this football team can realistically fix at this point in the season. The defense, the pass rush, the lack of playmakers on that side of the ball, that’s an issue only an offseason of attention and dedication of resources can improve. From here on out, Detroit’s best way to combat their lackluster defense is to keep their offense running hot, and Goff has to be better.
Against the Packers, Goff had three TWPs and a 5.5% turnover-worthy play rate, more than triple the rate he had posted in those first nine games. Over the past two weeks, Goff has six TWPs and a 6.8% turnover-worthy play rate—the worst mark by far in the NFL and a higher number than guys like Desmond Ridder (5.6%) and Mac Jones (5.1%) have posted this season.
Before you cry foul and ask where’s the blame for the offensive line’s poor performance, there’s certainly something to be said about the kind of pressure Goff has faced recently. 25 pressures against Green Bay and just 12 pressures against Chicago, but are we back here? Are we back to 2021 excuses for why Goff isn’t playing well? A couple of backup offensive linemen is enough to fold a guy that’s likely going to ask for a lucrative extension this offseason? In a league where injuries are a matter of “when” and not “if,” is that the proverbial shoe we’re going to be waiting on with Goff under center? Goff’s shortcomings are much more simple: he’s the one with the ball in his hands and he has to be more decisive. He can’t extend plays, that’s not his game, so he needs to know he’s not going to save a play that isn’t there.
In this final stretch, where Detroit attempts to claim their first divisional title in over 30 years, it’s up to Goff to prove he’s the quarterback this franchise can invest in moving forward—and it’s going to take some more even-keeled football to prove that.