Todd Bowles is one of the most respected defensive minds in football. He’s an aggressive play-caller, and he’s capable of coming up with team-specific game plans that are lethally effective. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
But the last time the Detroit Lions faced off against Bowles’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Jared Goff was wildly effective. Even with a run game that was completely shut down by the Bucs, Goff had one of his most efficient days, completing 30-of-44 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns.
“Goff has had a lot of success throughout his career against Todd Bowles. I don’t know if Lions fans necessarily recognize that,” NFL analyst Jon Ledyard told us during our Lions vs. Buccaneers preview podcast. “When he played for the Rams, he played very well against Bowles.”
Part of what makes Goff particularly tough for Bowles is that the Lions quarterback has been good against the blitz this year. In their Week 6 matchup, Goff completed 10-of-19 passes against the blitz for 171 yards and two touchdowns. It’s in Bowles’ nature to be one of the most aggressively blitzing teams in the NFL, but that may not work this week. Of course, the Los Angeles Rams learned the hard way that failing to pressure Goff is not an option either:
Jared Goff completed all 21 of his passes when he was not pressured for 266 yards & a TD, the 2nd-most non-pressured passes without an incompletion in a game since 2018.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 15, 2024
Goff had just a 0.3% chance of completing all 21 passes (1 in 372).
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Of course, it’s easy to credit the Lions offensive line for being a big help to Goff in that area—and they certainly have earned some of that credit. However, Ledyard believes Goff is one of the most misunderstood quarterbacks in the league because his pocket presence and ability to get rid of the ball in a timely manner have played a huge part in why he is year-to-year one of the least pressured and least sacked quarterbacks in football.
“His pocket movement—little, subtle steps. He can crawl up in the pocket a little bit, and keep guys from getting pressure around the edge,” Ledyard said. “He knows where he is in the pocket, he’s very consistent about where he is in the pocket, and because of that it makes him easier to protect for. So while I think the offensive line is good, I think Jared Goff actually creates a lot of the situations that he’s in.”
Ledyard helps us break down this entire matchup: From Baker Mayfield’s chances to beat up on this Lions secondary to why Jahmyr Gibbs may give the Lions running game some life this time around against a stout Buccaneers run defense.
Listen to the entire episode below. And if you dig what Ledyard is saying, consider subscribing to Pride of Detroit Direct, where Ledyard has been providing weekly All-22 breakdowns of the previous Lions games.