Detroit Lions' core offensive identity last season is absolutely no surprise

With what quarterback Jared Goff does well, the Detroit Lions' core offensive identity last season is no surprise.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It was something his predessor Anthony Lynn failed at in a partial season as the Lions offensive coordinator and play caller. But Ben Johnson immediately leaned into what Jared Goff does well while developing a strong relationship with the quarterback. It doesn't have to be rocket science on that level.

What Goff does well became clear early in his career with the Rams, and it holds up today. He can be a very effective pocket passer, with play action as a core element to his success. If he gets pressured heavily, things can go off the rails quickly. Working closely with Goff last offseason allowed Johnson to incorporate what the Rams did into what the Lions would do, and what Goff likes.

Shotgun is heavily used around the NFL, as a core element to offenses. As quarterbacks have progressively come from shotgun-heavy college offenses, it's been a natural change/evolution.

Detroit Lions offense went against the grain in 2022

According to Sports Info Solutions, the Lions used shotgun a league-low 51 percent of the time last season. As easily connected then, they were under center a league-high 49 percent of the time.

And it's not as if the Lions were bad out of shotgun. Per SIS, they were seventh in EPA (Expected Points Added) out of shotgun. They were third in EPA under center.

There are some other highlights from the SIS breakdown.

The Lions were sixth in pre-snap motion rate last year (53 percent), and fourth in EPA when they used motion.
Against the blitz, which is different than pressure, they were third in EPA while being blitzed at the second-highest rate (32 percent). With how Goff often wilts when pressure is getting home, it's no shock opposing defenses tried to come after him with extra people like that. The Lions were 17th in EPA under pressure.
On short dropbacks, with a rate that edged into the bottom 10 of the league, the Lions were No. 1 in EPA last year.

A lot of pre-snap motion. A lot of the quarterback under center. Usage of play action and short dropbacks, with room to do both more. The 2022 Lions' offense certainly looked a lot like the Rams' offense circa 2018, which was not a coincidence and much of the same is surely coming this year.


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