When the Detroit Lions traded one of the NFL’s elite passing talents in Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff last offseason, they set themselves up for the future in acquiring two first-round draft picks.
Goff’s place in that future looked to be in doubt by midseason when coach Dan Campbell suggested that more was needed from his veteran starter. But Campbell gave Goff a somewhat tepid vote of confidence on Tuesday where 2022 is concerned.
“Yeah, I mean I don’t see why not. He’s playing pretty good ball now,” Campbell said, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News.
Campbell has stuck by Goff as his starter this season despite the quarterback’s struggles; he’s missed just two starts, one with an oblique injury (Week 11) and another last week due to COVID-19. He’s led two wins in his last three starts, beating the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals with two of his best performances of the season.
Evaluating Goff, however, is a complicated matter. How much of his erratic play this season is on him? The Lions lost starting left tackle Taylor Decker for the first nine weeks of the season, which contributed to struggles in pass protection. And Goff’s targets weren’t exactly prolific; until rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown embarked upon a torrid December, Goff’s top target was tight end T.J. Hockenson. Even on the day Campbell called Goff out by name, he followed with a qualifier that the offense around Goff needed to step up, as well.
Goff has completed 311 of 464 passes (67 percent) for 3,007 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the year. But the aforementioned circumstances demand that his production be graded on something of a curve.
Apart from those considerations is whether Campbell will even be the one to evaluate Goff’s 2022 role — a 2-12-1 mark doesn’t bode well for his own future, although the Lions’ improved play of late could serve as an argument to keep the first-year coach.
Detroit also picked up a 2021 third-round pick in the Stafford deal, which they used to select cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, who missed most of his rookie year with a quad injury. But it’s the first-rounders — in 2022 and 2023 — that moved the needle for the Lions.
Whether Goff is the quarterback who will benefit from those picks remains to be seen, but for now, his coach stands in the Goff camp.
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