For Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff, facing Jets’ Robert Saleh like an NFC West rematch

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions and New York Jets have not played in four seasons, but Lions quarterback Jared Goff is very familiar with Jets coach Robert Saleh’s defense.

Goff had mixed results in four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams playing NFC West rivalry games against the San Francisco 49ers when Saleh was that team’s defensive coordinator.

Goff went 3-4 in seven games as a starter against Saleh’s defenses in 2017-20. He led the Rams to four games with at least 30 points, but lost his last four, including a career-low 78 yards in one loss in 2019.

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“I’ve played against San Francisco enough times to know what they bring,” Goff told reporters Wednesday. “Typically a good, well-coached team who is aggressive up front and tries to get home.”

Lions coach Dan Campbell said the Jets have replicated a lot of what Saleh did in San Francisco, albeit with a wider array of coverages in the secondary and with help from defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

The Jets have given up the sixth-fewest points in the NFL this season and rank in the top six in total defense (third), pass defense (fourth), sack rate (fourth) and interception rate (sixth). Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed give the Jets two physical cornerbacks, and Quinnen Williams is one of the NFL’s best interior linemen.

“It’s kept a foundation of, man, get up field, create disruption, don’t allow the double teams,” Campbell said. “And then run and hit, man. Let them dump it down. That’s fine. You want to throw it for a 4-yard gain, we’ll come up and pepper you and see if we can get the ball out. But they’re not going to let you hit them over the top. You’re going to throw a screen, they’re going to rally to it, so it’s — look, they’re playing really good football.”

Change it up

The Lions held a walk-through instead of practice Wednesday, a change Campbell said was part of a pre-planned “cycle down” late in the year to help keep players fresh for games.

“We’ve been doing things a certain way for a number of weeks and this is the time to change it up, and so that’s really all it had to do with,” Campbell said. “This is (about) more than where we’re at (and) when. I’d already had this in our head, this is what we’re going to do, for the most part. Talked to (director of sports performance) Mike Clark, who deals with a lot of this for us, and we felt like this is the right time to pull back on Wednesday, really get back and just hit the mental, and then we’re going to come back, it’ll be a little extended (practice Thursday) and really push the intensity.”

The Lions listed two players as non-participants in their estimated practice report: linebacker Derrick Barnes (knee) and guard Kayode Awosika (ankle). Will Harris (hip) and Evan Brown (ankle) were among the limited participants after missing last week’s win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Six pack for the Pro Bowl

Six Lions remain among the top 10 in fan voting by position for the Pro Bowl, with voting set to end Thursday: Frank Ragnow is fourth among centers, Aidan Hutchinson is fifth among defensive ends, DeShon Elliott is sixth among strong safeties, Kerby Joseph is sixth among free safeties, Penei Sewell is eighth among offensive tackles and Amon-Ra St. Brown is ninth among receivers.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads all players in fan voting, followed by Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Pro Bowl teams will be announced next Wednesday on NFL Network. Players are selected for the Pro Bowl based on votes by fans, coaches and players across the league.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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