Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown are the most underrated QB-WR duo in the NFL

USA Today

When talking about Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jared Goff, there’s a lot of misconceptions. Some say that Amon-Ra is a slot only receiver and he’ll always be limited. Others will say that Goff isn’t mobile or doesn’t have a strong enough arm to be a successful quarterback consistently in the NFL.

Say what you want but this quarterback and wide receiver duo is the most underrated pairing in the NFL. Since they’ve been paired together in 2021, Goff has completed 294 passes to St. Brown for 3,368 yards and 19 touchdowns in 46 games played.

Looking into last season, St. Brown was ranked 3rd in the NFL with 1,515 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Jared Goff was 2nd in the NFL with 4,575 passing yards. While you can say that Patrick Mahomes or Justin Jefferson are the best all-around players at their positions, there’s no denying the production and chemistry between Goff and St. Brown. Let’s look into some tape to go over why this duo is so good.

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The first play I want to highlight is from week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings. Looking at the play above, the Lions come out in ’12’ personnel (one running back and two tight ends) with quarterback Jared Goff under center. On this play, the Lions will run a stick-arrow concept

Prior to the snap, Goff sends wide receiver Jameson Williams on a motion towards Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is aligned as the ‘X’ receiver. While St. Brown has a tighter split, the cornerback and safety aligned over him need to honor and value the ability that St. Brown has to win vertically down the field. Obviously, as Jameson Williams motions over, they have to honor the deep ball even more.

Once the ball is snapped, Goff fakes a hand-off to David Montgomery out of the backfield. Off this play-action, Montgomery will free release into the flats and Williams will get vertical on an outside release. As for the tight ends, they look to pass protect but one of them will sit before releasing up-field to become the check-down.

As for St. Brown, his body language sells that he could be running a post or corner route or even a post-corner route. But he runs a 10 – 12 yard hitch route. Meanwhile, St. Brown is so good at understanding spacing and the zone coverage drops by defenders. He knows he needs to get depth on this route and he does exactly that. This leads him to be wide open in the middle of the field for an easy pitch-and-catch between him and Goff.

Getting away from some of the coach speak for the next clip, I just want to focus on how St. Brown being able to run after-the-catch. During the 2023 season, St. Brown was 2nd in the NFL with 668 yards after-the-catch. The only receiver with more was CeeDee Lamb with 680 yards.

Looking at the play above, you can see St. Brown motioned to the left of the formation. Once the ball is snapped, he has a delayed release up-field and as he gets 4-to-6 yards up-field, he explodes off his outside foot and breaks to the middle. This forces the linebacker (Quay Walker #7) to open his hips towards the sideline and it leaves himself wide open on the slant route.

As the pass is delivered from Jared Goff, you can see terrific run after-the-catch ability from St. Brown. According to PFF, he forced 17 missed tackles after-the-catch. He’s strong enough to shake off arm tackles but explosive enough to make defenders regret any poor angle they take to tackle him.

Lastly, the next play I want to focus on is from week 2 last season against the Seattle Seahawks. On the play above, the Lions come out in a shotgun formation with their ’21’ personnel (two running backs and one tight end). Aligned to the right is St. Brown and as the ball is snapped, he’s faced with a defensive back playing man coverage.

That’s not going to slow him down though. As the linebacker goes to cover the flats, this opens the middle of the field like the Red Sea being parted. Attacking that area of the field with a beautifully ran whip route is a wide open St. Brown.

Prior to delivering the pass, you’ll see Goff start his read to his left towards Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta. However, he quickly flips to the right and delivers the ball to St. Brown.

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Many people will say that these plays show St. Brown primarily aligned in the slot. However, the data tell a different story. St. Brown had 1,346 receiving yards against press coverage last season, per PFF. That tied for 3rd best in the NFL with Puka Nacua and only trailed CeeDee Lamb and Tyreek Hill. Meanwhile, St. Brown was the fourth-most productive receiver in the league when aligned outside, per PFF.

The Lions quick passing attack has been strongly developed due to the abilities of St. Brown and Goff. Like I said, you can call this tandem whatever you want but together they’re automatic. Statistically it shows and on tape, the trust developed between the pairing is undeniable.

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