Jared Goff is Mr. Clean behind Detroit Lions OL that has not allowed a sack in 10 quarters

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff held a gift exchange with his offensive linemen before practice Tuesday.

He got his outdoor-loving center, Frank Ragnow, a side-by-side ATV, he gifted Pro Bowl left guard Jonah Jackson a Breitling watch and he showered the rest of his line with presents like Louis Vuitton bags, Big Green Egg grills, pizza ovens and Wagyu steaks.

Giving gifts is commonplace for NFL quarterbacks, most of whom are happy to take care of those who take care of them. But if Goff’s generosity was at all influenced by his line’s stellar play, the gift’s recipients weren’t complaining Tuesday.

“He was very grateful for it and appreciative of it,” Jackson said. “We probably got something for him in the works. We’ll see, down the line. Protection was enough for now, but we’ve got him covered.”

The Lions are tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys for fewest sacks allowed (19) this season.

They rank second in sack percentage, allowing sacks on 3.93% of their dropbacks, and have not given up a sack in 10 quarters dating back to the first half of their Dec. 4 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Four of the Lions offensive linemen are in Pro Bowl consideration, Ragnow, Jackson and tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. And the unit’s success has come despite a rotating cast of characters at right guard due to injury.

“It starts up front with them for sure,” Goff said Thursday. “But it’s a conscious effort from (offensive coordinator) Ben (Johnson) to not put us in bad situations and for myself as well to make sure I’m getting rid of the ball on time. And stepping up in the pocket and being where I’m supposed to be, and it’s a full team effort. But most certainly it starts with those guys up front doing their job and keeping guys away and it allows me to play pretty freely.”

Goff has played some of the best football of his career as the Lions have won six of their past seven games to move into the wild card hunt.

He’s completing 64.9% of his passes on the season with a near-100 passer rating and has not thrown an interception in six games, and his trust in his line is a big reason why.

Earlier this season, as Goff was piling up turnovers during the Lions’ 1-6 start, Lions coach Dan Campbell said Goff’s pocket awareness was an issue. He was retreating too deep in his pass drops, and that was giving opposing defenses an easier path to pressure him in the pocket.

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More recently, Goff has calmed his feet and excelled at timing plays, throwing in rhythm to receivers who are beating the rush.

“Our O-line is doing a really good job — really good job,” Campbell said. “We’ve got some really good players up there. I mean, our two tackles, and Jonah, Frank’s out there battling like he does every week. And so, they’re giving our guy a chance, and when he sits back there and just plays with rhythm and stays on that back foot and is ready to throw, I mean, we’re pretty good. But there’s so much that goes into it, too. I mean, there’s an emphasis on our receivers. They’ve got to outrun the D-line. They’ve got to get into their routes faster than the D-line can get to the quarterback. That’s part of what we talk about. But listen when you block the way they’re blocking up front and you give our guy a chance to see it, we’re pretty potent on offense.”

Considered one of the NFL’s best groups heading into the season, the Lions’ offensive line has lived up to its billing.

The unit held a Jets defense that ranked among the league leaders in sacks (but was playing without top defensive tackle Quinnen Williams) to five quarterback hits in last week’s 20-17 win. A week earlier, the Minnesota Vikings had three quarterback hits in 39 Goff dropbacks.

Sewell has allowed two sacks this season while playing all 943 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and Decker three, and Jackson and Ragnow are two of the best interior linemen in the NFL.

“I think it’s just kind of the standard that we hold each other to in the room,” Sewell said. “We know what everyone else is capable of, so we just try to go out there every time and live up to that standard and expectation that we have with each other and for each other.”

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This week, the Lions will face another talented defensive front when they visit the Carolina Panthers on Christmas eve.

The Panthers rank near the bottom of the NFL in sack percentage, but edge rusher Brian Burns has sacks in five of his past six games and Campbell called defensive tackle Derrick Brown “a hell of a player.”

“We’re feeling pretty good as this run goes along, but whatever it is, we just got to go out there and clean slate,” Sewell said. “It don’t matter what happened the last game or games before that, we’re just going to go out there and ball. I think we’re playing pretty good right now and I think that speaks to our kind of chemistry that we have in the room.”

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

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