The Detroit Lions offense is going to look drastically different in 2021. Even putting scheme aside with the change of offensive coordinators, the heavy shift in personnel will lead to different stars on that side of the ball. Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr, and Danny Amendola are all gone.
But it’s that first name that could have the biggest impact on the offense. In steps Jared Goff behind center, a player who had worn out his welcome in Los Angeles despite being named to two Pro Bowls and leading the team to the Super Bowl in 2018. Obviously, given the trade terms, Goff is seen as a significant downgrade from Stafford, but don’t tell that to Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson, who has come away extremely impressed with the quarterback’s play this offseason.
“Jared’s my dog,” Hockenson said on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” on Tuesday. “He’s a great dude. Came in, I threw with him a couple times this offseason out in LA, and that guy just has a different mentality. I’ve been excited to have him. You see the throws he’s made on seven-on-sevens, you see what kind of person he is, how he sees the game. There’s nothing like it. I really am excited to have him as our quarterback. The reads that he’s made, the reads that he’s done has been special, and I know that guy is ready to go.”
And while any tight end is going to hype up his quarterback—especially one with so many doubters right now—it’s not hard to see the chemistry building between the two of them during offseason workouts. Hockenson has been a favorite target of Goff during organized team activities, and as Kyle Brandt pointed out in the interview, Hockenson is now the longest-tenured skill position player on the Lions, despite only being 23 years old. But the third-year tight end isn’t trying to carry the entire offense on his back.
“I’m not putting that kind of pressure on myself,” Hockenson said.
“Everyone in here has a chip on their shoulder,” he later continued. “Everyone in here is trying to prove something, and I think that’s something that I walked in a couple weeks ago and saw and I was like, ‘Man, this is going to be sweet.’ I’m excited to have guys in here that people are counting out and they’re not wanting that. They’re wanting to be that guy, they’re wanting to continue to push me and make me prove that I am that guy.”
To help push himself to the next level, Hockenson moved down to Nashville to spend offseasons with one of his best friends and one of the NFL’s biggest stars, George Kittle. Kittle recently teamed up with Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen to created Tight End University, a yearly tight end summit that Hockenson has already committed to.
“Being able to work out with (Kittle) every day, run routes with him, lift with him, we’re both pushing each other,” Hockenson siad. “We’re both going balls-to-the-wall every day. And I think that’s something that most people don’t have. They’re working out by themselves, but we surround ourselves with good people.”