Jared Goff eager to add new ‘weapon’ Jameson Williams to Lions’ offensive arsenal

Detroit News

Allen Park — On draft night, Lions quarterback Jared Goff reacted like most of Detroit to the selection of Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams at No. 12 overall.

Goff flipped on one of Williams’ highlight tapes and enjoyed the show.

“He’s a really good player. He’s obviously extremely talented. I think what jumps off the screen, first of all, is his ability to make people miss with the ball in his hands,” Goff said Tuesday following the first day of mandatory minicamp. “Obviously his speed is second to none, so (he’ll be) a weapon for us.”

With Williams on the mend for the foreseeable future due to an ACL injury suffered in January, there’s a need to get him acclimated without actually getting the chance to work with him on the field.

That task will mainly fall on the coaching staff, but Goff said he’s doing everything he can to help that process along.

“(I’m) just doing my best to keep him involved and making sure he’s a part of what we’re doing, and I’m not the only one. The coaches are doing that, too, and the trainers and everybody,” Goff said. “He’s a special talent. … I know they are going to make sure he is as healthy as possible. I want him back as soon as possible, but he is staying engaged, and has the script in his hand, seeing his reads, and doing a good job. He is a great talent but a great part of our team. I expect him to grow into his role nicely.”

But as someone who’s been through injuries and rehabs before, Goff knows that the road his rookie receiver is traveling isn’t an easy one. It’s hard enough making the leap to the NFL, let alone without the ability to work through installs and build chemistry with your quarterback. Goff is trying to mitigate the feeling of exclusion.

“I think that’s what happens sometimes when these guys have long rehabs, is you feel like you’re not quite a part of it,” Goff said. “I’ve had long rehabs in the offseason, so (I’m) just making sure he feels loved and knows he’s a part of what we’re doing. He’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing, obviously.

“Hopefully sooner than later, but we’ll see.”

Goff and Johnson

Receivers aren’t the only people in Allen Park that Goff has been working on building chemistry with.

With Ben Johnson taking over as offensive coordinator this season, Goff is more or less starting over again when it comes to creating and installing the offense. Goff followed up Tuesday on comments from Johnson last week — in which Johnson said he’s trying to help Goff “have the best season of his career” — by saying his favorite thing about the new dynamic is that Johnson “listens.”

“I think the most exciting part for me was the influence he was allowing me to have, asking me, and really curious on what I thought and what I liked — genuinely curious because it’s now a part of what we’re doing, so I know it wasn’t fake,” Goff said. “It’s exciting for me, being in Year 7 now, and feeling like I’ve earned having that voice a little bit that he’s given to me, which has been fun.”

Goff had a rough start to his Lions tenure but turned it around in the final five games, in which he threw 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions, a completion percentage of 69.57% and a quarterback rating of 107.1.

Both Johnson and Goff have mentioned the addition of tempo to the offense, as well as Goff’s success in play-action during his time with the Los Angeles Rams.

With a full offseason of the Lions knowing what works best for their quarterback — and Goff having the chance to offer his own input — he said the one thing that can take him to the next level is “being consistent and remaining consistent.”

“That’s what we’re doing right now, is creating comfortability and getting to that point,” Goff said.

Linebackers lovin’ it

Heading into his second season, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn doesn’t plan to let offenses dictate the course of action. He made it known recently that the new-look defense would involve a more attacking front, and it appears that isn’t just satisfying the big boys up front.

“We love it,” veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone said when asked how his position group feels about the new scheme. “I think we were more in a wait-and-pat-our-cleats type of linebacker play (last year). I think this year is a lot more aggressive, a lot more downhill. It makes it a lot easier for us to make (tackles for loss) and things of that nature, so as a linebacker, we love it.”

Anzalone added a change in the physical structure of the defense is certainly exciting, but he’s also seen guys start to put the pieces together, mentally, in the second year under Glenn.

“The personnel that they bring in…they have a standard of being not just smart, but having that football intelligence, that IQ,” Anzalone said. “I can see it in the linebacker room, I can see it all over the defense. Guys are really starting to understand not just what to do, but the concept of what’s going on.”

Roll call

Every member of the Lions roster except one was present for the start of mandatory minicamp: Third-year defensive tackle John Penisini.

Coach Dan Campbell didn’t offer much on the reason for Penisini’s absence, but said that he would “see him tonight” and that he knows “what’s going on with him.”

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.

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