Detroit Lions' potential Achilles heel for the playoffs is more clear than you might think

As the Detroit Lions get set for the playoffs their biggest weakness has been revealed by ESPN, and it's about quarterback Jared Goff.

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The Detroit Lions have one of the top offenses in the NFL. But do they have an Achilles' heel heading into the playoffs?

ESPN's Bill Barnwell (subscription required) broke down weaknesses for NFL contenders going into the playoffs. In regard to the Lions, pressure on Jared Goff was tabbed as their biggest weakness.

As Barnwell pointed out, however obviously, the average quarterback struggles when pressure is applied, with a QBR drop from 66.8 to 24.7 in those scenarios. Goff's numbers, though, areeven more glaring.

"All that said, Goff simply melts down. His 8.8 QBR under pressure is 26th in the league, which ranks below the likes of Mac Jones and Zach Wilson. The 68.5-point QBR difference between how Goff has performed with and without pressure is also the largest for any quarterback. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has the second-worst completion percentage over expected (CPOE) under pressure and has thrown eight picks on just 135 pass attempts under duress. That interception rate is more than twice the league average for pressured quarterbacks."

The Lions are a contender, but it's clear they must establish the run to assist Goff.

The success of the Lions in the playoffs could revolve around how well Goff is protected, and his ability to avoid mistakes when he's pressured.

Will the Rams be able to put a lot of pass rush pressure on Jared Goff?

To be clear, success against the blitz and being (relatively) successful when pressured are two separate things. Sending extra rushers does not always yield pressure. To that end, Goff is good against the blitz but numbers and the eye test show how much he struggles under pressure and it's not a new thing.

So in the Wild Card Round, can the Rams exploit Goff's struggles when pressured?

The Rams finished the regular season with 41 sacks, tied with the Lions for 24th in the league. They had the eighth-lowest pressure rate in the league (18.6 percent). They finished in the middle of bottom half of the league in every other metric related to affecting the quarterback (hurry rate, knockdown rate, etc.).

The one caveat, or potential issue for the Lions. is the Rams' interior defensive line. Future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald had eight sacks, while rookie Kobie Turner led the team with nine sacks. An immobile quarterback like Goff is naturally more impacted by quick interior pressure, so the Lions' interior line (Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, Graham Glasgow) will have to be on top of their game Sunday night.

That Goff struggles more than a lot of quarterbacks when pressured is not a revelation. But it is a thing to watch as the playoffs approach, which is essentially what Barnwell was highlighting.


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