If the Detroit Lions are going to have any hope of being competitive in the upcoming 2021 NFL regular season, it’s clear that their new quarterback under center will have to excel. Coming off a down season with the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff comes to the Motor City via a trade this offseason in hopes of salvaging his career.
Goff is welcomed to Motown in the midst of yet another regime change. This one was led by his former team’s director of college scouting turned Lions’ new general manager, Brad Holmes. Throw in a kneecap-biting media darling in head coach Dan Campbell along with a new coaching staff made up of several former NFL players, and there are many new faces around Allen Park this summer.
Getting this new team to gel early will be key to the Lions having any sort of success in the midst of a rebuild. And Goff is at the very heart of it. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is the man in charge of figuring out how to best utilize his quarterback’s skills. And how he can make the best use of the players around him.
Perhaps the answer to that question can be found in analytics. Here’s what Bruce Gradkowski wrote for Pro Football Focus recently about Goff after ranking the two-time Pro Bowl passer the 26th best quarterback heading into the 2021 NFL regular season.
"“Goff has a top-five passing grade when he has a clean pocket, is in rhythm and targets intermediate throws 10-19 yards downfield. He struggled when targeting 20-plus yard throws in the same scenario, earning the 29th-ranked passing grade out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks.”"
Much has been made of the Lions’ poor wide receiver corps this offseason. That after the new regime allowed starters like wideouts Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola to leave this offseason. And they then replaced them by signing several free-agent receivers like Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Chad Hansen to one-year deals.
But this fact might actually force Goff to rely on his strengths. The Lions have a very talented offensive line that only got better this offseason with the acquisition of Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell with their first-round selection. Second-year running back D’Andre Swift and Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson are viewed as Goff’s top offensive targets in this new, but limited offense.
If Jared Goff is at his best when keeping his passes 20-yards or less, utilizing his running back out of the backfield as a receiver and targeting his potential All-Pro tight end in the intermediate passing game could be the key to unlocking his potential in Detroit.