The Detroit Lions have a lot of work to do if they want to compete in the NFC North. With the Packers on the rise, the Lions have plenty of ground to cover. They have a new head coach, and fans are hoping to turn things around sooner rather than later.
In previous years, the only consistency the Lions have seen was at quarterback. Matthew Stafford has fought through injuries to compete for his city, but it has not transferred to wins. After so many years, Stafford finally asked to be traded, and his request was expedited. He was traded to the Rams in exchange for Jared Goff and draft picks.
Stafford is in a position to succeed in Los Angeles, but what about the other quarterback in this deal? Jared Goff led the Rams to the Super Bowl just a few seasons ago, but the Rams pulled the plug on him quickly. He is now the future of the Lions.
It’s not fair to expect Goff to bring Detroit to the Super Bowl. That being said, what is a realistic expectation for him with his new team?
Expect Growing Pains
Jared Goff had everything going his way in Los Angeles. He was coached by an offensive genius. For most of his career, Todd Gurley ran the ball heavily to take the pressure off of Goff. The system was also simplified, which helped Goff succeed. When something wasn’t working, Goff struggled and turned the ball over.
These errors were apparent in Los Angeles, but they will be magnified in Detroit. With the Lions, more pressure to succeed will be on Goff’s shoulders. If Detroit doesn’t resign Kenny Golladay, Goff will have practically no weapons and Detroit won’t be popular amongst NFL picks.
Goff will also have to become a stronger quarterback. He relied on speedy receivers to gain yards after the catch, and he struggled as he pushed the ball down the field. In Detroit, Goff will have to throw the ball deep. The Lions won’t win if they slowly march down the field.
The only good thing that Detroit has going for him is a quality running back, but almost all of the offensive pressure will be on Jared Goff. It is unfair to expect him to get significantly better in a significantly worse situation.
The Lions Won’t Win Soon
Detroit is looking to rebuild. That will take time, and this is for many reasons. They don’t have a great draft pick, and they are much more than one player away from succeeding. It is safe to say that they got a worse quarterback from this trade, and their draft capital will come in next year.
Despite a new coaching staff, things will need to get worse before they get better. No matter what Detroit’s NFL futures odds are to make it to the NFL Playoffs, don’t bite. In fact, they are currently tied for dead-last with Houston on the odds to win it all next season according to Bovada Sportsbook (see our Bovada Review). They will be actively looking to build for the future, and most teams with that mindset can’t even hit the over on win totals.
Detroit needs at least two years to turn this thing around. Fans will tell you that they have been waiting for decades to turn this around, so this might be too optimistic. Still, it is safe to say that the Lions have signed up for at least two more years of failure. Perhaps they can turn things around after that, but it will depend on how Jared Goff improves and how the Lions draft.
Is Jared Goff the Long-Term option?
This is where things get interesting. The Lions essentially took Goff’s contract in order to add more draft capital. Once the Lions are looking to win, Goff will be looking for a new contract. What will Detroit do?
This will depend on how the Lions evaluate his progress. Consider this a two-year free trial for Jared Goff. If the Lions like what they see, they will commit to the former first-overall pick. If Goff fails to develop, the Lions will let him walk, take the compensatory pick and use their assets to draft a franchise quarterback.
The new staff in Detroit is not committed to Jared Goff, and there is no reason for them to be. They have flexibility in a few years. If they like a new quarterback, there is no reason to stick with Goff past his current contract.