The Detroit Lions aren’t even hiding it, they’re genuinely excited about Jared Goff

Detroit Free Press

Monday was the final day of media availability at OTA’s and minicamp at Detroit Lions headquarters and for weeks now, different coaches and players have done their best to turn down the hype.

When it comes to the offensive line, Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker both said they believe it has potential.

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said he loves what they’ve been able to add and there’s more talent on that side of the ball, but you don’t know until the pads come on in game situations.

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Asked if the running backs can help make this team one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, coach Deuce Staley said that’s the plan, but wouldn’t make any bold proclamations

However on Monday, quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell didn’t hold back when praising Jared Goff.

“When I say he’s had an excellent spring, I’m not kidding, he really has done very well with learning, his work ethic, he comes out here and works, puts the time in, it’s very important to him,” Brunell said. “Just his ability to throw the ball, I mean he has elite arm talent, it’s been fun to watch and I think he’s in a great place right now.

“Just from last year to this year, he’s better at every aspect of his game as a professional, I mean he’s killing man, really proud of him.”

So much for tempering expectations.

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Goff will get the next five or so weeks to rest before training camp. But while there are reasons to be trepidatious  there are also reasons to be optimistic when it comes to the 27-year-old Goff.

First, the concerns. Look no further than last season.

In the Lions’ first eight games, Goff had eight touchdowns and six interceptions and was dead last in air yards per attempt.

The dysfunction between he and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn was apparent. The lack of skill players around him enhanced the problem, all leading to Goff’s struggles.

“Unless you’re in those shoes, you have no idea, it’s a lot to carry a team,” Brunell said. “He’s been around a while, he knows what it’s supposed to look like, he knows what it means to be a professional at that position, the demands on him (and) the requirements.”

Now, the glass-half-full approach.

Dan Campbell took over play-calling in the second half of the season and Goff looked like a new player. In the five games Goff played with Campbell calling plays, he ranked in the top five in QBR (107.1) and had 11 touchdowns compared to two interceptions.

It’s still unclear whether Campbell or offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will be calling the shots on game day.  Goff and Johnson have spent dozens of hours this offseason combing through film, picking apart the nuances of the game and going back to systems that helped maximize his potential coming out of Cal.

“Jared and Ben have spent a lot of time together, talking about different concepts, things Jared has had and been successful with in his past, not only with the Rams but here last year,” Brunell said. “The coordinator and starting quarterback, whenever they spend time together, I think it helps everybody and certainly has helped us this spring.”

Another thing to like about Goff, Brunell says, is his humble attitude.

That’s not always the case for someone who was a No. 1 draft pick and has been to a Super Bowl. But Brunell said Goff is still “coachable” and why he was able to listen to the list of things that Campbell, Johnson and Brunell presented to him for things to work on in the offseason.

Asked specifically what that was, Brunell said they’re keeping that “in house,” but he did address the need to take more shots.

“Listen, for us to be successful we feel like we have to push the ball down the field better than we did last year.” he said. “We’ve got a great o-line, the running backs are solid, the receiving core is great, so heck if you’re a quarterback for the Detroit Lions and you have all these pieces in place, you really start looking forward to the season.”

Pro Football Focus pegged the Lions as the third-best offensive line in the league. Last year, it was without Frank Ragnow for most of the season, Decker for much of it and Sewell was just a rookie, playing both left and right tackle.

Then there’s the receivers. Kalif Raymond, the Lions No. 2 wide receiver in terms of yards, receptions and touchdowns a season ago, might not even be consistently in therotation at the position when the roster is fully healthy.

That’s a testament to the depth that now exists there with Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark, Jameson Williams, Josh Reynolds, Quintez Cephus and Trinity Benson.

Not to mention the Lions’  second- and third-best options in targets and yards — T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift — a season ago.

So, more weapons, in a scheme tailored to Goff with a healthy offensive line.

It’s not hard to see why Brunell is so high on him. Or why Goff is so high on himself.

“His confidence is at an all time high,” Brunell said. “He’s the leader of this offense, leader of this team, he’s in command when we’re out there and understands what we’re trying to do and he’s done very well.

“It’s the best place I’ve ever seen him in.”

Contact Tony Garcia at Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.

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