Jared Goff has really struggled over the last two games, and the Lions are refocusing him to fix his most foundational flaw.
Over the last two games for the Detroit Lions, on each side of a bye against two tough defenses on the road, quarterback Jared Goff has a 67.5 passer rating with zero touchdowns, three interceptions and three lost fumbles. Those six turnovers equal the number of points the Lions have scored in those games.
There’s no mystery about Goff at this point in his career, and the Lions aren’t going to bench him for Nate Sudfeld. It’s worth noting how injuries have depleted his supporting cast lately, from D’Andre Swift to DJ Chark to Amon-Ra St. Brown, but his fundamental flaws are obvious even if things around him are well-situated.
At times, Goff seems to believe he can make throws he just isn’t physically able to. At other times he’s thrown off-rhythm by pressure, and he wouldn’t be the only quarterback that’s the case for. But he is absolutely unable to reverse a negative tide, within a play or within a game, and the Lions can’t mask it when it really goes off the rails for him.
Lions pushing Jared Goff to fix his most foundational flaw
Lions head coach Dan Campbell talked about what they’re trying to refocus Goff on coming off a couple rough games.
"I think we’ve got to refocus him on awareness in the pocket a little bit. Just continue to hammer it home,” said Campbell. “Sometimes, it’s just, and it’s not just him, there’s quarterbacks that will begin to drift a little bit where they feel certain things. You start moving, and you don’t realize you may be moving deeper than you need to or you’re moving into something else."
Campbell sounds like he’s talking about an inexperienced quarterback, not someone in his seventh season with 89 regular season starts on his resume who has started playoff games and a Super Bowl.
To his credit?, Goff acknowledged what Campbell talked about earlier this week.
"I agree on Sunday, for sure. I probably did that twice, where I just got a little drifty on them,” he said. “I need to help them by stepping up forward in the pocket and trust those guys.”"
Three of Goff’s turnovers this season have been returned for touchdowns, which is naturally random. But he has 78 turnovers over his last 67 starts dating back to 2018 (55 interceptions, 23 lost fumbles, h/t to Ben Raven of MLive), so him giving the ball away is not new in a broad sense.
Goff has always lacked pocket awareness. The key, for the Rams or the Lions, has been protecting him exceptionally well. When he’s under duress, he’s not athletic enough to escape the pocket or savvy enough to move effectively within the pocket or get rid of the ball quickly to the right outlet regularly. So pressures and sacks become turnovers, at times in bunches to turn winnable games into losses (see Week 7 against the Cowboys).
Goff’s most foundational flaw is a lack of pocket presence/awareness. There is no fixing it at this point, and it will show itself sometimes no matter what. The Lions just have to try to manage around and minimize it as best they can, with play-calling, etc. Sometimes it just won’t be possible, and an ‘L’ (literally or figuratively) will have to be taken.