Viewed by many as a bridge to the Detroit Lions' hopeful quarterback of the future, Jared Goff has turned in some rather terrific outings in the interim.
The Lions have won four of their last five, with a three-point loss to the Buffalo Bills mixed in. Coming off a 40-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in which he threw for 340 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-best fourth game in a row, Goff has been a catalyst and believes it's because he's playing as well as he ever has in his seven-season career.
"I feel like I am playing the best football of my career right now," Goff said Wednesday, via the team website's Tim Twentyman.
It's a strong statement from the former No. 1 overall pick, who has two Pro Bowl seasons and a Super Bowl appearance with the Rams on his resume. It's also a strong endorsement of first-year Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.
"I'm starting to settle in a little bit and Ben and I have a good thing going," Goff said. "Still a lot of work to do, and we can always improve, but I am comfortable and hope to continue that through the season."
Heading into a pivotal Week 14 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings (10-2), the Lions (5-7) boast the NFL's No. 6 scoring offense and No. 8 passing offense. Goff, whose 95.7 passer rating is 11th in the league and the best he's tallied since his 2018 Super Bowl campaign with the Rams, has Detroit in a realistic spot to earn its first winning season since 2017 and perhaps its first playoff berth since 2016.
A major reason for that has been Goff's care with the ball.
He hasn't thrown a pick in four games running, which, as aforementioned, is the best streak of ball security in his career. For the season, Goff has completed 263 of 405 passes (64.9%) for 3,022 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
"I think I've done a good job taking care of the ball and I think guys have gotten themselves open and we are protecting well, and I've been conscious of [limiting the turnovers]," Goff said. "I think that was an issue for us early on. It was part of why we were losing some of those games. I was very conscious of it, and I think it's been part of why we've won a lot of these games."
Detroit's Week 13 win prevented Minnesota from clinching the NFC North title. A victory Sunday against the Vikings would once again prolong a Skol celebration and also better the Lions' playoff hopes, as they enter action as the NFC’s No. 9 seed.
Traded from Los Angeles to Detroit along with draft picks in exchange for Matthew Stafford ahead of the 2021 season, Goff has always had high hopes of aiding the franchise's fortunes regardless of others' belief in him.
"It's always been the goal since I've got here, knowing the history of this place is to win and to enjoy winning in this city and to give the fans what they deserve here that have been starved of it for so long," Goff told ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. "We're still not there. We're 5-7, but a lot of positivity going on right now and things moving in the right direction. We're playing really good football, regardless of who we're playing or what the score has been, it's been really good football the last five weeks and can we continue that for another five weeks would be the goal and to finish the season strong."
The Goff-Stafford trade led to the Rams celebrating a Super Bowl last season.
Now, however, the Rams are reeling with just three wins, and Stafford is on injured reserve. In the meantime in Motown, Goff has the Lions relevant in the postseason chase, and the trade has also provided them with two first-round picks in 2023, including a likely top-five selection. Conventional wisdom suggests Detroit will look to pick its QB of the future. But Goff is making an argument that he should stick around a bit longer.
For a bridge, he's been a pretty darn good QB lately.