Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff’s complaint about holding calls is a loser’s lament

Detroit Free Press

I want to start with an explanation.

I’ve been there and I get it. Bad calls are an infuriating part of sports. If you have an emotional investment in the game as a player or a fan, result matters. When a referee exerts his or her influence on the outcome, it can be tough to swallow.

So I’m specifically addressing Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff when I say this: Please stop.

Yes, I get it. There were a lot of offensive-holding calls in the Lions’ 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday at Ford Field. Most went against the Lions and some thwarted scoring drives.

Six of eight holding calls against the offense went against the Lions. But Goff can’t be the one complaining publicly about those calls, as he did in his postgame news conference.

CARLOS MONARREZ: Forget another Lions loss, Dan Campbell is losing the benefit of the doubt

“They were getting these holding calls (against us),” he said. “The false starts are absolutely on us. Those can’t happen, but you can call holding on every single play. It’s no excuse. We’ve done it too much and I know those guys are hard on themselves front.

“But back there they can throw that flag every play. To me, it seemed like it was a little too often on that call. Now, false starts are absolutely on us and putting ourselves in those situations is on us regardless. But before even seeing the film, the frequency of that I think is not fair.”

Please stop. This is unnecessary. It’s also beneath you.

Goff’s heart may be in the right place sticking up for his team and his teammates, but complaining about holding calls is a loser’s lament. Especially on a day when Goff played well in his return from a strained oblique muscle. He proved himself to be durable and effective on the same day.

Goff threw for two touchdowns on deep passes, completed 84% of his passes and had a 121.8 passer rating, his best of the season. Yes, the holding calls hurt. When don’t they? But they weren’t the main reason the Lions lost this game.

Play-calling, injuries, dumb mistakes and a lack of talent are among the reasons the Lions didn’t beat a bad Bears team that had no business winning this game.

When Goff was asked later in his postgame news conference if he was surprised by the number of holding calls against the Lions, specifically on run plays, he doubled down.

“Listen, they’ve got a job to do,” he said of the refs. “Holding is a subjective call. We were getting them at a frequency I’ve never been a part of.

“I could be wrong. I could go 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. For the same guy to call it for both ways, I’ve never been a part of that.”

Obviously, the refs didn’t penalize both teams equally (the Lions had 10 penalties for 67 yards, the Bears had five for 50 yards). And I give Goff credit for saying he could be wrong. But even if Goff is right, who cares? What does that do for him or his team?

[ Lions taking ‘wait and see’ approach with RB D’Andre Swift’s sprained shoulder ]

The only thing complaining about the calls can do is give the Lions a convenient excuse for why they lost. And that’s the last thing this team needs if it hopes to find its first victory in its final six games.

Coach Dan Campbell was asked about the holding calls and he blamed “probably sloppy fundamentals” and situational problems with protecting Goff outside the pocket. But mostly he commended the defense for turning in another strong effort for the third straight week and giving the team a chance to win.

“When you keep your opponent from scoring 16 points or whatever, which is three weeks in a row, we have to be able to, we need to find a way to win that game,” he said. “So defensively I know that they’re giving us a chance right now.”

Campbell also laid the blame on himself and his team. When the Lions found themselves behind the chains on offense, Campbell didn’t bother to parse the reasons why they got there. He preferred to focus on the way they can get out of those situations in the future.

“All self-inflicted stuff, and that’s the hard part and also the encouraging part,” he said. “It’s stuff that we can fix and stuff that we have fixed before and stuff that we need to continue to stay on.

“Also, they didn’t do much to stop us. We just kept kicking ourselves and putting ourselves behind the chains.”

That’s the message this 0-10-1 team needs to hear right now. It needs to know it’s us, not them. This team needs to hear from its leaders how close it is to breaking through and winning a game, not how someone is robbing them of their glory.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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