This is the second part of a four-part preview of the NFC North QBs for the 2022 season. You can read part 1 here.
3. Jared Goff, Lions
The most boring of all NFC North quarterbacks (yes, even more than Kirk Cousins). At this point, we know who he is: an average-to-below-average franchise quarterback who is the weak link on a winning team (remember the Rams traded Goff for Matt Stafford after Goff was the QB on a Super-Bowl team?). But we also know he’s good enough to keep a team in contention with the right pieces around him.
This season, the Lions may have enough pieces to be dangerous in an always-mediocre NFC North. Unless the franchise’s dysfunction comes back to bite them again, the Detroit doormat days are behind them. Heading into 2022, the Motor City Kitties own the 3rd-ranked offensive line and 9th-best tight end (T.J. Hockenson), per PFF. Their receiving corps and backfield only ranked 21st and 20th, respectively, which may undersell their overall talent. Although none of the Lions’ skill players’ names will catch your eye, the conglomerate of weapons will only do Goff favors. Jared is an accurate thrower, and if he can get the ball to his playmakers in space, he (and the Lions) could have a surprising season. Just so we’re clear, I don’t expect Detroit to be good, only improved, which doesn’t take much.
There are still always some orange-to-red flags with Goff, though. There have been a few minor injuries (thumb in ‘20, oblique and knee in ‘21, causing him to miss four total games) that shouldn’t be too big an issue but are something to keep an eye on. A turnover machine historically, Goff did clean things up a bit last year . Part of that could be due to Detroit’s lack of vertical passing game last season: Goff was 20th in the league in Intended Air yards Per Pass Attempt (IAY/PA), a stat that measures how deep downfield a quarterback throws the ball, regardless of completion .
Throwing the ball down the field may very well increase under new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson (promoted from Tight Ends coach), a very confident 36-year-old coach who doesn’t seem interested in playing it safe. Regardless of who calls plays in 2022, Johnson intends to bring Jared Goff “the best season of his career” . I would count on more balls downfield under this guy. Is that a good thing? Well, maybe. In a more aggressive offense in Los Angeles, Goff turned the ball over at a much higher rate, something his uber-talented team could make up for . I wouldn’t count on the Lions being able to pick up a turnover-prone Goff time and again this season.
He’s not going to carry them, but he probably won’t sink them either (unless Johnson and kneecap-cracking Dan Campbell try to turn him into the next Matthew Stafford).
The Lions’ coaching staff’s overconfidence will come back to bite Goff. They will lean on their highly-touted offensive line to protect Goff for longer periods on called downfield routes. Jared will hold on to the ball too long waiting for routes to develop, resulting in poor decisions and the most turnovers of his career.
Will is a husband, father of two, and a lifelong Minnesotan. He earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). He became a Vikings fan in 2009 when Brett Favre stole his heart. Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.