Open thread: Is it time to bench Jared Goff?

Pride of Detroit

Let’s cut to the chase: the performance of Jared Goff has been underwhelming.

There’s no point dancing around the issue, as it a critical aspect of the offense that is not clicking. In a modern NFL, you need an adequate passing attack, and through six games, Jared Goff has not been that.

But is it time for a change?

With the Detroit Lions’ recent blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals came an outcry from fans about Goff’s performance, many of whom are now banging the table for David Blough to make an appearance. Is this a desperation attempt at salvaging anything worthwhile from this season? Are there believers that Blough can carry this team to victory? Perhaps more importantly, is it the right time to make a move?

Before anything, we should compare numbers.

Blough made a string of five starts in 2019 when Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel went down with injury. Goff, meanwhile, has started six games for the 2021 Lions, so the sample size is similar.

  • Jared Goff: 6 starts, 159-for-238 (66.8 percent), 1505 yards, 7 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, rating of 86.9, QBR of 33.0
  • David Blough: 5 starts, 94-for-174 (54.0 percent), 984 yards, 4 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, rating of 64.0, QBR of 34.0

Stats-wise, neither quarterbacks are pretty, but Goff’s numbers are better in nearly every regard. Blough failed to pass for over 300 yards in each of his five starts, and its worth noting that he had a receiving corps of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and T.J. Hockenson. Goff, meanwhile, has Hockenson and a handful of players that wouldn’t be starting on most teams. The rate stats favor Goff as well, including an Adjusted Yards Gained per Pass Attempt (AY/A) of 6.2 to Blough’s 4.6.

There are plenty of arguments to be made for Blough too. While Blough had a better receiving corps, he was also an undrafted rookie playing under a relatively poor offensive scheme—sorry, Darrell Bevell fans. Given how limited Anthony Lynn’s offense has been with Goff, there is a chance Blough plays the same or better. With the season essentially lost, is there any risk if Blough plays worse? A major complaint against Goff has been his yardage only coming when defenses were playing prevent, something Dan Campbell mentioned in his post-game press conference. Goff may have the edge in yardage, but it comes in far more attempts. Looking solely at yards per attempt, Goff is sitting at 6.3, while Blough came in at 5.7.

Then again, what are the chances of Blough playing better? The only skill player remaining from that 2019 team is T.J. Hockenson. Even then, Blough played a single game with him before Hockenson headed to the Injured Reserve: a six catch, 18-yard Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears. To say Blough lacks a connection with any of these players is an understatement. With receivers already struggling to run proper assignments, that issue would only be exacerbated with Blough at the helm. Blough doesn’t have a better arm than Goff either, so the downfield passing is going to be missing regardless of who’s starting.

Dan Campbell has said that Goff will remain the starter, although nothing is truly set in stone in the NFL. Campbell has highlighted that the offense is not playing like a complete unit, and the blame needs to be spread around and not focused on Goff. It’d be hard to disagree with that statement. Along with the previously mentioned receivers, injuries have battered the offensive line and the running backs have had some tough sledding as a result. Goff’s interception against the Bengals is the epitome of the Lions offense: a near-perfect throw that gets fumbled into the arms of an opponent. Even when Goff is making good throws, something else goes wrong.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Is it time to bench Jared Goff?

My answer: I don’t think so.

While I mentioned in my takeaways that the Lions could consider benching Goff, I don’t see it as a productive move. The offense is too depleted to give any of the Lions’ quarterbacks a fair shot. But even with the right assets, I still don’t believe either player would catapult this team to success. Jared Goff, David Blough, it won’t matter. These 2021 Lions are bad, and their current stable of quarterbacks aren’t enough to elevate this team. It’s worth remembering that Blough wasn’t overly impressive in preseason either.

As for alternatives to Goff and Blough, Tim Boyle is unlikely to return any time soon due to his broken hand. Some are pounding the table for Cam Newton or trading for Deshaun Watson, but neither of those moves make sense for the Lions. For Watson, the off-field issues coupled with assets needed to acquire him should rule him out. As for Newton, I don’t see him as much of an upgrade over Goff. Newton’s A/YA in 2020 was 6.4, barely above Goff’s current 6.2. Sure, he can contribute more as a runner, but it would also mean teaching him a whole new scheme. Mark me down as doubtful of this move.

At this point, the only reason to bench Goff is to send a message to the team about accountability. Good play is rewarded with more snaps, bad play with fewer. However, as Campbell said, Goff needs help, and I don’t think the team will magically fix its issues with Blough at quarterback. If we reach a point where the receivers, running backs, and offensive line are playing well, then perhaps you can consider benching Goff.

Many view Goff as a bridge quarterback, and by benching him, you are burning that bridge. If Goff is benched, you have to consider releasing him this offseason. You aren’t paying a player $30 million to be your backup. The chances of Goff being your starter in 2022 after benching him in 2021 are slim-to-none. While many are excited about the prospect of a rookie quarterback, the flaws of this team remain and likely will remain in 2022. For those of you playing the draft, benching Goff also telegraphs the Lions selecting a quarterback, which could hurt if they don’t receive the top pick.

Everyone is frustrated with Goff’s performance, and rightfully so. That being said, Goff gives the Lions the best chance to win. While I would love an underdog story of David Blough rising above the expectations to win a few games, it’s more fiction than fact. Blough doesn’t have the resume to assume he can succeed where Goff hasn’t. If you start Blough, he likely struggles and the cycle continues.

Your turn.

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