Everyone wants answers and someone to blame when you start a season 0-6. In the case of the Detroit Lions, a lot of that blame has fallen on quarterback Jared Goff. Despite what many might think, benching Goff wouldn’t solve a single problem.
Goff threw for only 38 yards in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. The boos directed at the QB1 started to trickle down ever so gently. While Goff hasn’t been great, and the quarterback is always a prime suspect when a team sputters, Detroit has more significant issues that span across the roster.
“I will say this,” Campbell said. “I feel like he has to step up more than he has and I think he needs to help us, just like everybody else. He’s gonna need to put a little bit of weight on his shoulders here and it’s time to step up, make some throws and do some things, but he needs help.”
While the assessment is fair and Goff needs to be better, just how much better is he expected to be?
The Lions knew what they were trading for. They were going to be getting the lesser of the quarterbacks when they sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason. It’s why LA had to sweeten the pot by including draft compensation — and that compensation wasn’t just throwaway picks.
Detroit got Goff and two future first-round selections in the swap. They and everyone else knew that Stafford leaving and Goff coming in was a clear downgrade at the position.
When you factor in that the depth chart at wide receiver is topped by rookie fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown and journeyman Kalif Raymond, it’s hard to put all the blame on Goff. St. Brown was the 17th receiver selected in the 2021 draft, and he’s already been elevated to No. 1 on the depth chart due to injuries. Raymond had 20 total receptions in his first five years in the NFL. He already has 20 this season for the Lions. What quarterback would succeed with that? It’s not a knock against either wideout, and St. Brown likely has a bright future. But he isn’t a No. 1 wideout at this point in his career. It’s not even particularly close.
If the Lions expected Goff to come in and one-up or even equal what Stafford had done for 12 years in Detroit, the blame falls on the front office for having their blinders on.
For what it’s worth, Campbell mentioned that there are no plans to bench Goff right now.
“No. Now, that doesn’t mean that something won’t ever come up,” Campbell said of considering a change at quarterback. “I’m gonna look at everything, but, look, this was a collective effort offensively. You can’t blame one person there. I know maybe you think it’s easy to just throw it out and for me to blame it on myself, but look, they heard plenty from me in there, but the bottom line that’s the truth. I didn’t help them prepare for this game properly or help our coaches help them prepare properly.”
I’m not offering apologies for Goff and it isn’t a case of trying to coddle a quarterback. Goff hasn’t been great the last three weeks, plain and simple. But look at the bigger picture: Detroit has arguably the worst top-to-bottom roster in the entire NFL. It starts with all the injuries at wide receiver to guys like Tyrell Williams and Quintez Cephus and trickles down to injuries on the offensive line with Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker. Goff has to step up, but the bar of expectations should also be lowered quite a bit given the circumstances. It’s important to stay realistic amid the frustrations of an 0-6 start.
Goff has viewed it as an up-and-down roller coaster ride so far.
“I mean, there’s been good, there’s been bad, there’s been stuff to work on,” Goff said. “It’s kind of always that way when you look at yourself and when you’re critical of yourself. Like I said, everyone’s got their things that they’re working on and I’m no different.”
The road ahead eases up a bit after this weekend’s tilt with Goff’s former team. Home games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears will provide a couple of opportunities for the Lions to notch that ever-elusive first win of the season. It will require Goff to bump up his consistency, but let’s keep the expectations within reach because benching him doesn’t solve the problems.