Detroit — Jared Goff has continued a tradition that’s as old as time itself.
The Detroit Lions quarterback stood at the podium following Thursday’s 16-14 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Chicago Bears, listened to a question, and closed his response with one of the most frequently used quotes in team history.
“I’ve never been a part of that,” Goff said.
No, he wasn’t referring to his first time participating in the Turkey Day football tradition in Detroit. He was talking about the six holding calls that officials stuck on Detroit’s offensive linemen, a frequent drive killer and point of frustration for yet another week as the Lions continue to search for their first win.
“I know these guys are hard on themselves up front, but back there, they can throw that flag on every play, and to me, it seemed like it was a little too often on that call,” Goff said. ”
“Before even seeing the film, the frequency of that is not fair.”
He’s got a decent point. Coming into Thursday, the Lions had just nine holding calls on them all season, tied for fourth-best in the league.
The Bears were flagged for offensive holding just twice Thursday after coming in with the second-lowest amount of holding calls on the season (six).
“Holding is a subjective call,” Goff said. “We were getting them at a frequency I’ve never been a part of, but I could be wrong. I could look at the film right now and be like, ‘That’s a hold, that’s a hold, that’s a hold,’ I don’t know.
“But it’s all self-inflicted stuff. That’s the hard part, and also the encouraging part, right? It’s stuff that we can fix, and stuff that we have fixed before.”
Goff doesn’t know that a whole lot needs fixing, as it pertains to the Lions’ penchant for holding. And he definitely doesn’t want the Lions’ offensive line to “lose their stinger” by being afraid of getting called for holding.
Taylor Decker — flagged for holding twice — said that the process doesn’t really change.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s a good way to put it,” Decker said. “You can’t lose your stinger. Football’s an aggressive spot, as a lineman you do everything you can to get your hands inside, try to drive the guy…but, yeah. You’ve gotta keep playing aggressive.
“If they call it, they call it. But we’re not gonna go out there and play tentatively. I think that’d be the wrong way to go about it.”
For a Lions offense that has struggled to move the ball this season, stacking those holding penalties on top of each other was a drive killer on more than one occasion.
On their first multi-hold drive, The Lions got bumped back to first-and-20, then handed the ball off twice before trying a deep shot before the punt. Fans booed the run calls.
On their second, Detroit moved into Chicago territory and looked poised to extend its lead in the with just under 10 minutes to go in the game. Those two penalties also led to conservative play calling that left fans upset.
“There isn’t a play call for (third-and-30). There isn’t a play call for second-and-25,” Goff said. “What you want to do, at least in my eyes, is get yourself into a third-and-manageable.
“Like we’ve been doing, we’ve kind of stacked them. And when you get a couple back-to-back, then you’re even in further territory and it’s tough.”
Like the Lions teams before it, they must keep marching. Decker and Goff both know that by now.
“It’s frustrating. It’s emotional,” Decker said. “All that work that we put into it, being competitive with really good teams, it hurts, ya know? It hurts. But you don’t wanna go numb to that and think you’re not (playing) for anything, because you’re going to be out there, and you’re going to be hopeless.”
Did you hear that, everybody? The 2021 Detroit Lions are not devoid of hope yet — as long as the holding penalties come to an end.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.