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Has Jared Goff Earned Opportunity To Be Lions’ Starting QB in 2022?

  • The Draft Network
  • December 19, 2021
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The NFL is a funny league. Just when you think you have it figured out, the Detroit Lions and quarterback Jared Goff throw a knee-buckling curveball and force you to rethink everything that once appeared certain. Following Sunday’s upset victory over the Arizona Cardinals, the Lions suddenly look like a team capable of playing spoiler with a quarterback who may have played himself into the team’s long-term plans.

Goff enjoyed a near-perfect game against the 10-win Cardinals, even if it was still a display of conservative short and intermediate pass attempts. He played mistake-free football, and Detroit proved they’re capable of winning with him behind center when they aren’t giving the ball away. In fact, over the last five games, the now two-win Lions have played a competitive brand of football, with two wins and a tie over that stretch. Goff’s thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions over the last four games.

Goff finished Sunday’s win completing 21-of-26 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns.

The Lions’ victory hurts their chances at securing the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but at this point, does it even matter? There isn’t a quarterback in this year’s class who warrants that selection, and with the two prized pass-rushing prospects (Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux) unlikely to create much separation in their final grade, the second pick in this year’s draft is almost as good as having the first overall. Plus, with Goff’s sudden emergence, Detroit may be out of the first-round quarterback market altogether.

Goff, who doesn’t turn 28 years old until next October, has a history of success in the NFL, even if it was under the watchful eye of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay. He was discarded by Los Angeles because of his limited upside, but one team’s trash is another’s treasure, right? Now, this isn’t meant to suggest that Detroit has their franchise quarterback. No one would argue that Goff is that kind of player. But the Lions aren’t in the stage of their rebuild where a franchise quarterback will put the roster over the top. Instead, they need a bridge to that player, and with the way Goff is playing in December, he appears to be perfectly capable for that role.

It seems like Lions fans are warming up to the idea, too. Twitter was abuzz Sunday afternoon with a bunch of pro-Goff tweets, and while that may seem like an irrelevant benefit of an upset victory, it does have some importance for a franchise that needs to maintain support from its fan base while it goes through the dark days of a rebuild. If Detroit can satisfy its fans with a Goff-led offense (for now), general manager Brad Holmes can focus on the unsexy trench players in the draft and free agency without being vilified.

Goff has been in what’s felt like a no-win situation since the Lions traded their long-time face of the franchise, Matthew Stafford. Most quarterbacks would be viewed as a downgrade compared to Stafford, and with how poorly the Lions’ season started (and with how conservative Goff was during their losing streak), it’s easy to understand why the narrative around his play was so negative. There were calls for him to be replaced just a few weeks ago; now, that seems like a ridiculous suggestion.

The NFL is and always will be a week-to-week stock watch. Players emerge just as quickly as they disappear. They get on hot streaks just as quickly as they sink into the abyss. Goff is riding the hot part of that equation, and with just three games left to play, he has a chance to finish on that high, too. If he does, the Lions already have their quarterback for 2022.

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