The Lions and Jets don’t play each other often, but Lions quarterback Jared Goff and Jets head coach Robert Saleh are fairly familiar with each other.
The Detroit Lions and New York Jets don’t play each other very often. Every four years, to be exact. But for Lions quarterback Jared Goff and Jets head coach Robert Saleh, there is some ingrained familiarity with each other.
Saleh spoke to reporters on Wednesday, and talked about Goff.
"Jared Goff, he was the number one pick in the draft and he’s led a team to a Super Bowl,” Saleh said. “And, when he’s back there and he’s comfortable, he’s as good as anybody in this game. And, he’s playing at a very high level. He’s taking care of the football. I think he’s got seven interceptions on the year. He delivers. I mean, he is, he’s very accurate. Very accurate with the football, (a) quick decision-maker. He is very comfortable back there, and he’s playing very, very well.”"
Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Goff talked about going against San Francisco when he was the Rams quarterback. Saleh was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator for four seasons (2017-2020) before becoming the Jets’ head coach.
"I’ve played against San Francisco enough times to know what they bring,” Goff told reporters Wednesday. “Typically a good, well-coached team who is aggressive up front and tries to get home.”"
How has Jared Goff done vs. Robert Saleh defenses?
Goff started seven games against Saleh’s 49ers’ defenses with the Rams, with three wins. Let’s look at Goff’s statlines from those games.
Week 3, 2017: 22-for-28, 292 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, 145.8 passer rating, 41-39 win
Week 7, 2018: 18-for-24, 202 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 127.4 passer rating; 39-10 win
Week 17, 2018: 15-for-26, 199 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, 121.6 passer rating; 48-32 win
Week 6, 2019: 13-for-24, 78 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions, 60.8 passer rating; 20-7 loss
Week 16, 2019: 27-for-46, 323 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 85.7 passer rating; 34-31 loss
Week 6, 2020: 19-for-38, 198 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 72.0 passer rating;24-16 loss
Week 12, 2020: 19-for-31, 198 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions, 52.9 passer rating, 23-20 loss
Clearly, Saleh figured something out on Goff over time. The Rams scored at least 31 points four times against the 49ers with Goff under center and Saleh running San Francisco’s defense, but it only happened once in the final four games of the seven-game sample. The erosion of the Rams’ running game proficiency, as Todd Gurley declined and was eventually gone, is also notable (see Goff’s pass attempt trend).
Independent of history against Saleh’s defenses in San Francisco and any inherent transfer to what the Jets’ defense does now, it’s an incredibly tough matchup for Goff this week. The Jets are a top-10 defense by a lot of measures, including related to pass defense and getting after the quarterback.
Sunday’s game will be a big test in a lot of ways for the Lions. But Goff’s performance will be in the spotlight, against a defensive scheme he has seen plenty of before.