The way quarterback Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions finished last season has a lot of NFL analysts and fans thinking big things for the team in 2023.
It doesn’t get much bigger that what media personality Ross Tucker is apparently thinking for the Lions. While appearing on the All Lions Podcast, he hyped Goff and Detroit as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
“Jared Goff showed that he can win playoff games. He can win road playoff games. He can get to a Super Bowl,” Tucker said on the podcast. “And I think he’s playing better than he played when he was with the Rams.
“So, if he’s able to get to a Super Bowl with the Rams, I think he can get to one with the Detroit Lions.”
Goff led the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2018 season. During that season, which was his second full year as a starter, Goff threw for 4,688 passing yards with a 64.9% completion percentage. He also had 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
In 2022, his second season with the Lions, Goff completed 65.1% of his passes for 4,438 yards with 29 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
Jared Goff Playing Better with the Lions?
After posting an 0-7 record as a rookie, Goff began to play much better under Sean McVay in 2017. During his first two seasons with McVay, Goff submitted a 24-7 record and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. In 2017, he led the NFL with a 12.9 yards per completion average.
Goff only averaged 7.6 yards per pass in 2022 with the Lions. But with a high volume of attempts, Goff just about equalled his 2018 production last season.
He’s also been far more careful with the ball lately.
In two seasons with the Lions, Goff has only thrown 15 interceptions. Over the final nine games last season when the Lions went 7-2, Goff tossed 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also had a 67% completion percentage and 7.7 yards per attempt average during that span.
During the year Goff led the Rams to the Super Bowl, he averaged 8.4 yards per pass but threw 12 interceptions.
Fans could argue which is more important — limiting turnovers or a high yards per pass average. If it’s the former, Goff played, without a doubt, the best football of his career in 2022.
Over the past two seasons, Goff owns a 1.4% interception percentage. Goff had a 2.1% interception percentage in 2018.
The NFC “Feels” like a Winnable Conference, Says Ross Tucker
How Goff fares will heavily determine how far the Lions go in 2023. But Tucker argued that the stars are aligning for the Lions around the NFC too.
“If the Lions were in the AFC, kind of would have a tough time picturing them being better than the Chiefs or probably even the Bengals,” Tucker said. “Niners have their quarterback and injury issues. Eagles lost a lot. I think the Eagles are still probably the favorite, but they lost, they’re coming back to the pack a little bit.
“So, there’s the potential there for a Detroit or a Seattle or a team like that to go to the Super Bowl.”
The Green Bay Packers traded Aaron Rodgers, making the far less-experienced Jordan Love their starter behind center this season. The Chicago Bears made a lot of free agent moves this year but still appear to be a year away from competing for the division.
The Minnesota Vikings could still be a formidable contender. However, NFL pundits don’t feel too confident about the Vikings as a Super Bowl contender after they finished last season 3-3 including the playoffs.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see a team that finished around .500 in 2022 rise to the top of the conference this season. That’s what happened last year with the Eagles.
Early Concerns for Goff at OTA Practices
As complimentary as Tucker was of Goff and the Lions, he tried to keep his expectations in check.
“When was the last time you guys won a playoff game at all, like the 90’s, 1991?” Tucker asked. “That is unbelievable. I mean that is unbelievable.
“So, maybe we should just pull back a little bit. Like let’s win a playoff game first.”
Like most of the Lions players, Goff wasn’t alive the last time Detroit won a playoff game. The Lions defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the 1992 Divisional playoffs to advance to the NFC Championship.
Since the, though, the Lions are 0-9 in playoff games.
Goff’s early OTA struggles have worked as another reminder that offseason hype means little in the NFL. John Maakaron of SI.com’s All Lions reported on June 1 that the veteran quarterback was “visibly frustrated” with some of his receivers, who he hasn’t been on the same page with early in offseason workouts.
On May 28, Maakaron called Goff “a dud” at practice.
It’s important not to overreact to workouts in May and June. But obviously, there’s still a long way to go before the Lions fulfill Tucker’s lofty Super Bowl endorsement.