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Dan Campbell: Lions QB Jared Goff is better now than he was with the Rams

Lions coach Dan Campbell believes quarterback Jared Goff—now with more responsibilities and knowledge—is better than he was with the Los Angeles Rams.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell believe Jared Goff—now in his eighth NFL season—is better than he’s ever been. Yes, that includes when he went to the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams back in 2018.

“He’s a better quarterback than he was there, in my opinion,” Campbell said before Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice. “Because he can do more things. He’s mentally on it. We’ve come light years ahead of where he was two years ago.”

Goff agrees, noting that experience and age have given him the tools to elevate his game at this stage in his career.

“I think as you get older and get more mature in the league that happens and I’d certainly say so,” Goff said. “I think I said that a handful of times last year that I thought I was playing the best football of my career and plan on continuing to do that.”

Goff is coming off one of his statistically best season in the NFL. He finished sixth in the NFL in yards per attempt (7.6), sixth in passing yards (4,438), seventh in passer rating (99.3), and fifth in ESPN’s QBR metric (61.1).

While none of those stats are career highs, Campbell noted that much of Goff’s improvement is mental. Specifically, the Lions are putting more on the quarterback’s plate than he ever had under coach Sean McVay in Los Angeles, including teaching him protections.

“We ask him to do a lot more, in my opinion, than what they were actually doing out there (in LA),” Campbell said. “They had a lot of pretty good pieces out there, as well, as we know. Damn good defense, all those things. I just feel like I know from speaking with him and watching him over the last two years, I just feel like we put a lot of things on him where I’m not so sure that’s ultimately what they were doing.”

During Goff’s time in Los Angeles, McVay had a very hands-on approach to the offense. The Rams coach would make sure that Goff would rush to the line so that he would have as much time as possible to be in quarterback’s headset until the playclock hit 15 seconds—when that communication is automatically shut off. McVay was reportedly often calling audibles for the quarterback. At the time, McVay downplayed the significance of that role and brushed off any concerns that Goff didn’t have any ownership of the offense.

“I think it’s a discredit to what Jared has done,” McVay said back in 2017. “He’s doing a lot of different things at the line, and that’s really a credit to him. ... To say that I’m in his ear the whole time, that wouldn’t be the case.”

That said, even Goff admits now that he has more control at the line of scrimmage now, particularly when calling out protections to his offensive line.

“I like knowing what’s going on obviously on everything and being able to take control of that is super important,” Goff said.

Goff has also noticeably taken more ownership of the offense. While offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has been getting high praise for Detroit’s big leap in production last year, Johnson himself has often credited Goff with helping develop the scheme.

“One thing that we’ve done is included him a lot in what we’re trying to do schematically,” Johnson said last summer. “And so we spent some time this offseason watching more of the stuff he did a few years ago in LA and how we can incorporate some of that.”

Goff is just 28 years old, which is still considered relatively young by seasoned quarterback standards. With now more ownership and responsibilities in his hands, all that’s left for him is to prove on the field that the best football in his career is still ahead of him.

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