Allen Park — If you run into your ex when out on the town, you hope, at the very least, you can project you’re doing just fine without them. But Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff won’t have that luxury when he returns to Los Angeles this week to play the Rams, the team that unceremoniously dumped him in the offseason.
While the Rams are thriving, Goff is unquestionably struggling in his new setting. The Lions are the league’s lone winless team, and while the quarterback is far from the only problem, he also hasn’t been a solution for the rebuilding franchise.
Through six games, Goff ranks near the bottom of the league in passer rating, QBR, yards per attempt and touchdown percentage, all while the Lions are struggling to find the end zone. The team is currently averaging 18.2 points per game, which ranks 28th in the NFL.
There’s no question the Lions are desperate for a win this week, but it’s difficult to imagine a strong performance and a victory meaning more to anyone on the roster than Goff this week.
“I think, you know, for him, I think this is very important,” longtime teammate Michael Brockers said. “Very important for him just to go back — just have a good game, just have a solid game.”
As often happens when a football team is floundering, the starting quarterback has found himself in the crosshairs of both media and fan criticism. For the first time this season, coach Dan Campbell faced questions about whether he would consider a change at the position after Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Not surprisingly, the coach isn’t prepared to unhitch the franchise’s wagon to the player they spent the offseason hyping up, despite the results.
But even though the Lions, and likely Goff, will spend the rest of this week downplaying the magnitude of the matchup against the Rams, Campbell acknowledged that past experiences have made him empathetic to weight outside narratives can have on players.
“As it pertains to this week, I think it’s really how do we give him the best plan possible to have success?” Campbell said. “I would do that with anybody, not just him. Shoot, I remember, last year, it was the Tom Brady and Drew Brees deal. You don’t think a lot about it, but those two guys going at it, that was all that was being pushed that week. It was a huge story and sometimes you take it for granted, the amount of pressure that those guys are under to perform.
“I know this is a little different, but in the same regard, I know it will be a big story,” Campbell said. “So how do we calm it down, just to where he can go and play fast and efficient? And us help him offensively — run game-wise, play action, anything that we can do that’s going to take a little bit off and help him play fast.”
Brockers has been with Goff the quarterback’s entire career and the veteran defensive lineman still has faith in the former No. 1 overall pick, based on their past experiences together.
“This is guy who I’ve seen go 4-12 and then the next year go 11-5,” Brockers said. “We have a lot of trust in him, giving him that confidence and just letting him know that we have his back. I think that’s the biggest thing as a quarterback who’s going through any kind of slump. And this is any quarterback, just to know that the guys in the room have his back and there’s nobody in the room that, you know, thinks anything differently.
“… He’s a human being, man,” Brockers continued. “When you have all kind of different people outside kinda setting this narrative about you and it’s not true, that’ll get anybody down. The biggest thing is for him, for us as teammates, is just to let him know that we got his back no matter how many people want to talk about you or whatever. The people in this locker room always gonna fight for you. He knows that and he knows that’s coming from me.”