There is no doubt about it. Jared Goff’s performance in the first few games of his Detroit Lions career was not exactly inspiring. Goff ranked near the bottom in air yards per attempt and efficiency, and the Lions offense sputtered.
Other than some garbage-time stat padding in the losses to Green Bay and San Francisco, the Lions passing offense was dreadfully ineffective. However, a midseason change in the offensive coaching changed things for both Goff and the Detroit passing game.
When Dan Campbell took over the offense from coordinator Anthony Lynn, Goff’s game expanded. With a rejuvenated passing scheme designed by tight ends coach (and likely new offensive coordinator) Ben Johnson, Goff started to throw the ball down the field more, and more effectively.
The season splits from before and after the change, coinciding with the Lions’ bye in Week 11:
First 8 games: 206-of-308 (66.9%), 6.5 yards per attempt, 8 TD, 6 INT, 85.3 passer rating
Last 5 games: 105-of-156 (67.3%), 7.1 Y/A, 9 TD, 2 INT, 99.1 passer rating
Four of the five post-bye games were among Goff’s six best of the season. A clunker against Denver (24-of-39, 215 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) dilute the late-season surge. Goff also missed the Week 16 and 17 games with a knee injury and COVID-19.
A look at passing charts from NFL Next Gen Stats reveals the change. First, the distribution chart from the Week 6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals:
Compare that to the Week 15 win over Minnesota.
Goff started using more of the field, both vertically and laterally. The tight cluster in the short middle spread out. That’s a direct result of the changes Campbell and Johnson implemented. His eight completions beyond 10 yards down the field in this game match Goff’s total from Weeks 5 through 8.
There are other factors at play, too. Adding wide receiver Josh Reynolds helped, as did the increasing emergence and attention to detail from rookie WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. Losing TE T.J. Hockenson and RB D’Andre Swift —by far…