Detroit Lions mailbag: Jared Goff’s future, and should the Lions tank for Bryce Young?

Detroit Free Press

Some Tuesdays feel like film days, some feel like mail days.

After hearing Detroit Lions fans grumble about another lost season Monday morning on my flight home from Dallas, I knew this was a mail week; a chance for you to vent, complain about the past and look forward to the future all in one.

With Jared Goff’s four-turnover performance in the Lions; (1-5) loss to the Cowboys, I’m not surprised a lot of this week’s questions were about the quarterback spot and Goff’s future in Detroit.

And that’s where we start.

Goff has turned over the football 61 times since 2019, Brad Holmes cant possibly think he is the Lions future, can he? @DetroitStrong55

That’s a pretty remarkable stat Detroit Strong dug up, and it’s one that encapsulates why I don’t think, despite their hope coming into the season, anyone in the Lions organization truly believes Goff is the quarterback of the future.

Goff has nine turnovers already this season and 23 in 20 games in Detroit. Some of those weren’t his fault; the fumbled snap when Frank Ragnow was trying to play through a toe injury in Chicago last year comes to mind. And others can be chalked up to being in desperate late-game situations (like his last fumble Sunday). But Goff’s ball security issues helped push him out the door in Los Angeles and nothing he’s done since arriving in Detroit screams long-term fix at the position.

I get why the Lions crossed their fingers and hoped Goff would be the answer at quarterback. If you can spend your draft capital on other areas, you can build a more compete team. But I’ve been screaming from my mountaintop for years the Lions need to draft a quarterback and I think Sunday’s loss crystalized that thought for many.

Should the lions tank for Bryce young? — @Lilbuddyspd12

The Lions sit atop the 2023 draft order with 11 weeks left in the regular season, and Young, the Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama quarterback, is the top quarterback prospect in the draft.

The only way the Lions can ensure themselves a chance at Young is by finishing with the first pick. And while that may happen (though I still think this is a five- or six-win team), there is no chance players and coaches will do anything but try to win these final 11 games.

As for the question whether the Lions should tank for Young, there is merit to the thought. But there also is value in winning games down the stretch for everyone involved, and I’m not sure Young is the type of can’t-miss prospect you want to trade present success for.

Plenty of teams could have Young’s Alabama teammate, Will Anderson, as the No. 1 prospect on their draft board come spring, and I’m sure some will favor Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or maybe even Kentucky’s Will Levis at quarterback. The way things stand now, if I was the Lions I would take Young with the No. 1 pick, but I don’t think I would be dissatisfied with landing any of the other three in the top 10.

What’s the better lions draft idea? Go Young or Stroud (with a top 3 pick presumably) And defense with Rams pick, OR Jalen Carter/Will Anderson then draft Anthony Richardson with the rams pick? – @99Karl_

As nice as Anderson, the Alabama edge rusher, or Carter, the Georgia defensive tackle, would look in a Lions uniform, the correct answer here is to get your quarterback first and address the defense later.

The bottom line in the NFL is you always have a chance with elite quarterback play, and the most likely spot to find an elite quarterback is high in the draft. The Cleveland Browns decided to go the pass rush route in 2017 when they drafted Myles Garrett with the first pick and opted to wait until 2018 for their quarterback. Mahomes went nine picks later, the Browns took the wrong QB at No. 1 in 2018, and Garrett has lots of sacks but only one winning season in his career.

As for Richardson, the Florida quarterback, he’s exciting to watch, but he’s still very much in the developmental phase. He’s completing 56.5% of his passes with more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) this season. He needs a lot of seasoning before he’s ready to start in the NFL.

Which leads me to this next question …

Dont u think (Dan Campbell) needs to win soon? If we draft a rookie qb does that give him another 2-year leash? How do they balance needing to win now if they draft a rookie QB? – @DirtyJerzFinest

Would u trade Hockenson? Swift? Are we really going to pay them premium $$ when one cant stay healthy and the other has been average and does not get used enough? — @DirtyJerzFinest

Dirty Jerz asked two questions I wanted to get to this week, so I’m going to handle them both here.

On the first topic, that’s the conundrum the Lions are in (and it’s not totally unlike what Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia faced in 2020, and we all know how that turned out). No, I don’t think drafting a rookie quarterback buys Campbell two years. He needs to win in 2023. That’s the bottom line for a coach in the NFL. And that won’t be easy to do if the Lions start a rookie quarterback next year.

The right thing for the organization is to draft a quarterback, and it will take Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell setting aside whatever internal pressure they may feel to keep their own job to do that. Quinn and Patricia had a chance to set the Lions up with a young quarterback in 2020, either Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, but never appeared to seriously go down that path. Herbert is one of the best QBs in the NFL, saddled by poor coaching with the Los Angeles Chargers, and while Tagovailoa has not reached stardom, he’d be a better option (and cheaper) than what the Lions have now.

As for trading Hockenson and/or Swift, the NFL trade deadline is next week and it’s a chance for the Lions to add a pick or two to their coffers. I don’t think Swift has much value right now since he’s never on the field, so that leaves Hockenson and cornerback Amani Oruwariye as two of the Lions’ top trade pieces. (Certainly, the Lions’ best assets are on their offensive line, but I would not trade from that strength and create another weakness to fill with a potential rookie quarterback on the way next year.)

Hockenson is under contract for a reasonable $9.4 million next season. If a tight end-needy contender wanted to give up a high draft pick, the Lions would have to listen. Hockenson is a good player. He’s been a productive receiver since he came into the league and he’s made strides as a blocker this season, but there may be a bigger role for him somewhere else.

As for Oruwariye, he had a nice bounce-back game last week, but his long-term future in Detroit remains cloudy and the Lions did just get Jerry Jacobs back from injury. I don’t think Oruwariye has much trade value right now, given his performance this season, but if the Lions aren’t planning to re-sign him in 2023, it’s worth fielding offers.

MONARREZHey, Lions fans, take a cue from your team and get over bad calls

Dave, with Chark on IR and Reynolds being a bit banged up, could you see perhaps Jameson Williams’ timeline being moved forward slightly? – @rharris_16

Campbell said last week the Lions’ injury situation would have no bearing on Williams’ return, and that’s the right approach for a player the organization drafted with the future mind.

Williams will benefit from playing this season once his surgically repaired knee is ready for action. He could return to practice in the coming weeks and still get a month-plus of game time going into his second year. The Lions are in a bind at receiver with DJ Chark’s latest ankle injury, but they have only themselves to blame for signing an injured pass catcher in free agency.

Hi Dave. Detroit’s defense looked legit yesterday. One-week wonder or will they be solid the rest of the season? —@ted_hutson

The Lions have actually put pretty good defensive efforts together the past two games, so maybe Aaron Glenn has found a fix for a unit that’s still allowing the most points in the NFL. Aidan Hutchinson played well against the Cowboys, the Lions started four rookies on defense that game and they’ve been better in the red zone of late.

Now, both the Cowboys and New England Patriots had fairly conservative game plans, and neither team has the speed or weapons the Lions will see against the Miami Dolphins this week. So while I do think the Lions made meaningful improvement on defense, there probably are some not-again moments ahead.

Overall, I expect the Lions to be a better defensive team in the second half of the season. Their rookies should continue to grow, and the return of veterans like Jacobs and Charles Harris adds depth to the unit. Maybe most importantly, outside of the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars (!), the Lions dont play a team that ranks in the top half of the NFL in scoring and total offense the rest of the year.

Should I not let my kids root for the lions? — @wanderingfrog2

Depends if you’re going to need them to care for you in your older years or not.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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