Observation 2: Goff can’t carry offense
While it is always unfair to a quarterback to be asked to win without help, what the Detroit Lions are asking of quarterback Jared Goff borders on cruel and unusual punishment. The lack of talent in the receiving corps keeps showing up in every game, where the Lions just can’t get chunk plays often enough because the wide receivers, in particular, are not very explosive. That isn’t to say that Goff hasn’t missed the mark on any number of occasions, too.
The most receiving yards by anyone not named T.J. Hockenson has been 68 yards this past game by Kalif Raymond. That is with Hockenson garnering double-teams everywhere he went, too. In every game so far, the Detroit Lions would have promoted their opponent’s second or third-best wide receiver to being their featured wideout if they could steal that player.
The tandem of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift, along with a good job from the offensive line, has kept the Lions in games early but the offense’s inability to stretch the field has been obvious. Defenses are simply crowding the line, doubling Hockenson, and daring Goff and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to beat them over the top. So far, they haven’t shown an ability to produce a downfield threat to open up the shorter and intermediate routes that Goff thrives on.
According to the NFL’s website, the Detroit Lions have only 6 plays of more than 20 yards on the ground and 13 of more than 20 yards via the passing attack. The chunk passing plays do put them in the top half of the NFL through three weeks but in the loss to the Ravens, they only generated two plays of twenty-plus yards and none until their final drive.
Dan Campbell promised more of running back D’Andre Swift, who leads all runners in receiving yards, in the future, and perhaps Tyrell Williams will return to help downfield. Taylor Decker will be returning at some point, too, back to left tackle, presumably.