I drafted Jared Goff on my fantasy team this year. I got him in the later rounds, he was the third quarterback I drafted. He had a breakout statistical season last year, at least by his standards.
After a promising start to his career, Goff slowly became an afterthought in the NFL as well. After five seasons in Los Angeles, he was shipped off by the Rams in exchange for Matt Stafford. Most began to call Goff a bust.
And why not.
Goff was drafted first overall in 2016. The albatross that comes with being the first overall pick soon weighed heavy around his neck. After all, from that draft position, if you don’t immediately rescue a drowning franchise, you are quickly labeled a pariah.
Goff had early success in Los Angeles. He was selected to two Pro Bowls. In his second season as a starter, he led the Rams to the Super Bowl where they lost in the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. The final score was 13-3.
Things didn’t quite pan out as he had planned and was traded to Detroit. The move turned out to be the right one for L.A. as Stafford won a Super Bowl with the Rams in his very first season. After going 3-10-1 in his first season in Detroit, most had given up on Goff.
Not Dan Campbell.
Known as a fiery, emotional, players coach, 2021 was Campbell’s first season in Detroit. He took over for the disastrous experiment that accompanied Matt Patricia, who went 13-29-1 in three seasons. In two seasons and one game, Campbell had already won as many games as Patricia. Jared Goff is his quarterback. The Lions are now 3-1.
I am here to tell you that Jared Goff is the perfect quarterback for this team. He’s never going to be the quarterback who lights up the stat sheet as we’ve seen so many big-armed quarterbacks do. He’s never thrown for more than 32 touchdowns in a season which aren’t Patrick Mahomes numbers but good for fifth overall last season after only throwing for 19 in 2021.
Did you know that in six full seasons as a starter, Goff has only had one losing season, his first in Detroit? He’s led teams to double-digits wins twice and after wins on the road in both Kansas City and Green Bay, appears destined for a third.
I watched that season opener in Kansas City, as did most of America. As one would expect, most of the attention was paid to America’s sweetheart and two-time Super Bowl champion, Patrick Mahomes. Not a single minute of pre-game coverage was allotted to Goff and his Lions, despite what many thought would be a breakout season. I watched as both quarterbacks took warmups, Mahomes animated despite having to play without his Pro Bowl tight end. He approached Goff to shake hands. With laser-like focus, Goff couldn’t be bothered. He was amicable and receptive but went about his pre-game ritual. You see, while the Chiefs may have gotten lazy and presumed this game a W before it started, the Lions came to Kansas City with a game plan. And while it might not have been executed perfectly, it worked well enough for the Detroit Lions to leave Arrowhead with a victory, reminding all of us that, if nothing else, the NFL is unpredictable.
After that game, a sideline reporter stuck a microphone in Goff’s face and asked the obvious questions, what it meant for a team like the Lions to waltz into KC, one of the most difficult places to play against one of the most talented teams in the league and leave with a win. Goff smirked, answering “It means we’re 1-0.”
Everyone in that locker room knew the win meant way more than that but Goff, now a veteran, gave the right answer. Counted out by every possible pundit, Goff had the last laugh, and he continues to.
The days of sleeping on the Detroit Lions are officially over. I’m not saying they’ll win this year’s Super Bowl. I am saying that they have built a stout defense through the draft. I am saying that this is a team that nobody wants to play. I am saying this team, inspired by their coach, will leave everything on the field every Sunday. And I am saying the days of the Detroit Lions being underdogs are over. They’re ten-point favorites against Carolina this weekend.
The quarterback is the most celebrated position in sports. We are unforgiving when they don’t live up to the expectations that we set for them. For every Peyton Manning, there are far too many Ryan Leafs.
People have counted out the Lions just like they have counted out Jared Goff. Both are here to prove you wrong and have a lot of fun doing it.