Jared Goff’s wild inconsistency, unnecessary gamble yet again hurt Detroit Lions

Detroit Free Press

Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions about the Detroit Lions’ 38-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday:

What did you think of Jared Goff’s performance?

As the Oracle of 8 Mile once asked, “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?” One of the most frustrating exercises I go throw every Sunday is watching quarterback Jared Goff. He makes some great plays and some head-scratching stupid plays, with no apparent reason for his wild fluctuations. For the second straight week, Goff had a strong first half, when he was 9 of 14 for 70 yards, a touchdown and a 100.3 passer rating. He was in sync with Kalif Raymond and threw a beautiful deep play-action pass to Josh Reynolds. In the second half, he struggled to move the offense, was way too late on his reads, held the ball too long and had passes batted down. When the Lions were down, 31-10, and needed a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Goff blew a well-designed play when he rolled to left on play-action and threw a bad pass out of reach to tight end Brock Wright in the end zone when he had receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and KhaDarel Hodge closer and more open. I don’t know how long the Lions can tolerate this kind of inconsistency from their quarterback.

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What was the Lions’ biggest mistake?

If you want to point to one moment that cost the Lions the game, this is it: They were down, 24-10, after the Broncos scored on a turnover following Godwin Igwebuike’s fumble. On fourth-and-2 from their 33 with 8:51 left in the third quarter, the Lions called a pass that was incomplete to tight end Shane Zylstra. On a short field, the Broncos scored four plays later to take a 31-10 lead. It was way too early to take that kind of gamble. It was a perfect time for Jack Fox to boom a punt and pin Denver deep and try to the ball back and possibly cut the lead to 24-17 before the fourth quarter. Instead, the Lions effectively ended the game on a bad gamble, likely spurred by an emotional decision to make up for Igwebuike’s fumble. Hey, I’m the first one to advocate for the Lions to continue losing and get a better draft spot. But dumb decisions aren’t the way to do it.

What did you think of the run game?

The Lions were shorthanded everywhere because of injuries and COVID problems. But they were especially hamstrung in the run game without their top two backs, D’Andre Swift or Jamaal Williams. That meant Igwebuike and Craig Reynolds, elevated from the practice squad, had to carry the load. And they did a pretty good job, combining for 108 yards. Reynolds especially showed his explosiveness on a 35-yard run and he finished with 11 carries for 83 yards. Igwebuike had eight carries for 25 yards, but he showed why it might be hard to trust him with more work after he lost one fumble and nearly lost another fumble trying to transfer the ball and reach across the goal line. Still, you have to credit the grit of the run game behind good play designs and a shorthanded offensive line that started undrafted rookie Ryan McCollum at center.

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

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