The Detroit Lions belong to Jared Goff. This is his team. And for the time being, get used to it.
Since arriving in Detroit, many questions have surrounded him. Is he bait for a future trade? Will he be a bridge quarterback? Can he be “THE guy” to replace Matthew Stafford?
And the biggest one of all? Can the Lions win with him?
Mandatory minicamp is underway this week for the Detroit Lions. I’ve had the opportunity to see Goff in action. I’ve seen him during drills, warmups, in the huddle, and listened to him during media sessions. I even fired off a question to him during that time frame.
I saw Jared Goff in action this time last year. He is still the same man ––chill, personable, and genuine. However, he doesn’t appear to be the same player. This Goff appears to have a fresh coat of paint. To paraphrase Fat Joe, “yesterday’s Goff is not today’s Goff.”
During OTAs and minicamp last year, Goff appeared to be troubled.
After all, he went from sunny Los Angeles to the unpredictable weather of Detroit. He went from a perennial playoff team to one that’s constantly “rebuilding” every few years. And lastly, he went from being coached by an offensive genius (Sean McVay) to one getting his first crack behind the driver’s seat of a team (Dan Campbell). There was much uncertainty about everything for Goff.
So watching him on the field this time last year, he had times where he appeared to be shaky. Some passes he threw were a bit wobbly. Heck, some were even behind his receivers. Or worst, thrown right in the dirt. He didn’t appear to be a confident quarterback.
And it showed up in his play. The Lions started their 2021 season 0-8.
This week, however, I’m not seeing that version of Goff appear.
Over the past few days, I’ve seen a Jared Goff who looks relaxed. He appears confident. How did I come to this conclusion? Simple. I observed his body language. I’ve seen how he walks and roams the field compared to last year. Last year, it looked like a small jog from play-to-play. It was as if he was just a guy out there. You know, just going through the motions.
Now, Goff is walking with a little bit of pep in his step. There’s a clear swagger about him now. And there’s plenty of reasons why that is so.
I see more intensity when Goff is talking to teammates, such as guys like Frank Ragnow, his All-Pro center. When he’s passing during drills and 11-on-11’s, there’s more zip in his throws. The accuracy is a bit more precise.
And here’s the biggie. One thing I am seeing from Goff this year that I didn’t see much of last year is constant conversation with the offensive coordinator (OC), Ben Johnson.
Now, to be fair to his former OC, Anthony Lynn, I am not saying that I have never seen him and Goff speak to each other during practice. That’d be a bold-faced lie. However, this week, I’ve seen Johnson and Goff essentially glued at the hip. It’s easy to spot them talking on the field, and Goff appears to be very engaged with whatever they’re discussing. I saw that mainly from Goff last year when he spoke with his quarterback coach, Mark Brunell.
That should bode well for the Lions offense this season. Having the Goff and Johnson on the same page from the start will be key for a successful season. Toward the end of last season, Goff appeared to be more confident in the play-calling. That resulted in the Lions winning their final three home games. Johnson’s influence played a part in that.
Be mindful that this is all super early. After all, the Lions are not even in full pads yet. These observations could change for the better (or worse) once training camp and preseason starts.