Detroit — Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is prepared to evaluate everything to get his struggling offense on track after Sunday’s 34-11 throttling at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Well, almost everything. When asked specifically whether he would consider a change at quarterback, Campbell backed Jared Goff as the team’s starter for the immediate future.
“No,” Campbell said. “Now that doesn’t mean that something won’t ever come up. I’m going to look at everything. But, to me, this was not, this was a collective effort offensively. This was not — you can’t blame one person there.”
Even within the game, which saw the Lions fail to score until midway through the fourth quarter and muster just 95 yards of offense through three frames, Campbell said he never considered going to backup David Blough.
With a couple of meaningless scoring drives late in the game, after the Bengals had transitioned to playing a prevent defense, Goff’s final stat line ended up looking respectable.
But that’s been an unfortunate pattern throughout the season, outside of the Green Bay game in Week 2, when he played close to flawless when leading the Lions on three scoring drives in the first half.
In the team’s other five games, they’ve averaged 3.2 points in the first two quarters, getting shut out in the first half for the third time against the Bengals.
“It has nothing to do with Jared,” Campbell said, before reconsidering the response. “That’s not true, but what I’m saying is I don’t put this all on Jared Goff. This is a collective. This is collective offensively for everything from, how can we help schematically to, man, are we (missing assignments) at the improper time? Are our guys getting open? Is he making the throw he should? Is he making the right read? So this is a collective. Believe me. This is a collective effort offensively that we’re digging ourselves into a ditch with offensively.”
Despite offering his support to Goff, some of it via spreading the blame, Campbell also noted he needs more out of his quarterback going forward.
“I don’t feel like we can accurately judge him one way or another,” Campbell said. “I don’t feel that way, yet. Now, I will say this, I feel like he needs to step up more than he has. … I think he’s going to 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,” Campbell said. “Look, I told him out there, he knows this, but some of that stuff — we’re getting these holding calls, well, it’s because he’s drifting back in the pocket 10 yards deep. That’s not fair to those guys, either. If you hang on to the ball, it’s like I told you, this is a collective effort now, everything goes hand-in-hand.”
Goff, as he almost always is, was calm and even-keeled after the less-than-stellar performance. And he embraced his coach’s challenge to step up.
“I think I can always do more,” Goff said. “You’re never in a position where you feel like you’re complacent. Of course, we’re nowhere near that, but I think I’ve got some experiences to rely on that I can relay to these guys and do my best to be the best leader I can be and continue to try to find the open guy and get him the ball, take care of the football, and do my job every day.”
The spotlight figures to be burning even brighter next week when Goff returns to Los Angeles for a game against the Rams, the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016, but traded him to the Lions this offseason.