Detroit Lions pass offense notably lacked aggression last season

It’s no surprise, but the Detroit Lions’ pass offense lacked aggressiveness to a notable level last season.

Combined a limited quarterback with a lack of viable weapons and then-offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn going bland offensively based on those things, and you have the Detroit Lions‘ passing game for a big chunk of last season.

Jared Goff knew who his two best options were before Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged late in the season when they both missed time–T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift–and he targeted them heavily. But a tight end and a running back being your top two pass catchers necessarily means shorter passes the majority of the time, for better or at times worse.

Goff’s numbers, including yards per attempt and such, improved when Lynn’s role was reduced and Ben Johnson (now the offensive coordinator) became passing game coordinator after the bye last season. But it wasn’t enough to change one season-long metric for the Detroit pass offense.

Detroit Lions’ passing game practically lapped the field in bad metric

As part of ESPN’s three year NFL power rankings projection (subscription required), Seth Walder had this note about the Lions in 2021. Credit to Lions Wire for the passage.

The Lions threw short of the sticks 65% of the time last season, higher than any other team by a mile (the Panthers were next at 54%). Getting more aggressive in that department will be one of many areas needed to turn this team around.

Combined throwing short of the first down sticks so much, by necessity or otherwise, and a general lack of YAC upon completion of the throws, and you have a driving force behind the league’s second-worst third down conversion rate last year (34.7 percent).

With the additions of DJ Chark and Jameson Williams (once he’s healthy), along with a full season with St. Brown in a prominent role, and the Lions’ should be able to stretch the field more, strain defenses, more easily throw past the sticks and move the chains far more effectively this year. But Goff will have to hold up his end of the equation.