Why Former No. 1 Pick Jared Goff Can Turn His NFL Career Around in Detroit

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 15, 2021

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff throws during an NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich., Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

It doesn't bode well that Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams essentially gave up on quarterback Jared Goff only 19 months after handing him a four-year, $134 million contract extension. It's easy to understand why a Rams team in win-now mode lost patience with a quarterback who posted the 12th-lowest qualified passer rating in the NFL over the last two seasons. 

But let's not get carried away and declare Goff's football career dead. It's entirely possible that a fresh start with the Detroit Lions will serve him well.

Keep in mind that:

1. He won't turn 27 until October. 

2. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft only five years ago. 

3. He earned two Pro Bowl nods with a 60-to-19 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a triple-digit passer rating and a 24-7 record in 2017 and 2018. 

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

McVay's offensive system certainly helped with all of that, but if a guy can deliver to that degree at the age of 23 and 24, he clearly possesses the ability to become something special in the NFL. 

And while optimism almost always dominates the offseason, it isn't a bad thing that it's been hunky dory thus far in Detroit. 

Goff said last month during the team's offseason program that he felt "empowered" by Lions head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. 

"Any time you get a change of scenery, it's always a fresh start, a breath of fresh air," he said at the time. 

He's also received praise from general manager Brad Holmes. 

"He's been a winning quarterback," Holmes told Mike O'Hara of the team's official website in June. "I think his resume speaks for itself."

Back in May, Campbell was impressed by what he saw from Goff during organized team activities. 

"I can tell you this, he throws a pretty ball, that's for sure," he told the media. "I like his command in the huddle. And I would say, he's progressing kind of right where you want at this point."

Lynn, who helped guide Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to an Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2020, also praised Goff on the Compas on the Beat podcast last week:

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

"It's been an absolute pleasure to work with Jared. Just giving him some input and watching him grow as a leader on our football team, that's been really cool to see. But he's had some really good practices and hopefully that carries over to training camp and the regular season. But I'm very pleased with what I've seen so far."

Lynn might not have McVay's reputation, but he's one of the most respected offensive minds in the sport, and it looks as though Goff will be well-supported in the years to come in Detroit. 

It's a shame the Lions lost top wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. just as Goff arrived, but they do have one of the sport's brightest young stars at tight end in 24-year-old Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson. Meanwhile, new wideouts Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams aren't nobodies, and the Detroit offensive line looks stacked with rookie No. 7 overall pick Penei Sewell joining steady left tackle Taylor Decker, Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow and potential standout guards Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jonah Jackson.

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Goff was at his best in L.A. when Pro Football Focus rated the Rams offensive line sixth leaguewide in both 2017 and 2018. It all fell apart when that unit was broken up and fell to 31st in those rankings in 2019.

We've seen that Goff needs a clean pocket to excel, and he should benefit from a lot of those as a Lion. More broadly, the dynamics surrounding him have changed, and that might be just what the doctor ordered.

A horrible performance in Super Bowl LIII at the conclusion of his otherwise promising 2018 season looks like a turning point for Goff. He completed only 50 percent of his passes and posted a sub-60 passer rating while failing to lead a single touchdown drive in that forgettable 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots, and he hasn't been the same since. 

To rediscover the magic that preceded the Super Bowl loss, Goff might have needed a clean break from L.A.

Holmes, who was the director of college scouting for the Rams during Goff's first five seasons, noticed that the California product had a chip on his shoulder after losing all seven of his starts as a rookie in 2016. He believes "that chip is back."

"Having intimate knowledge of what he did go through in L.A., and the conversation we had, I think we're getting him at a good spot," Holmes added, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

So, don't count out Jared Goff. Not yet. 


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.