Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson wants Jared Goff to keep his foot on the proverbial gas pedal going into the final three weeks of the 2022 regular season.
Sure, it’s important for Goff to keep taking care of the football, which he has excelled at in recent weeks. The veteran Detroit signal-caller, in fact, hasn’t thrown an interception in six consecutive weeks. In doing so, he’s become the first Lions passer to go six straight starts without committing a turnover.
And, in that span, the Lions have gone 5-1, with their only loss having come against the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.
So, playing clean football has been the key to Goff & Co.’s recent stretch of success. However, it doesn’t mean that Johnson intends on entirely getting away from being aggressive with his play-calling.
“Each night, he’ll come up, and it’ll just be one-on-one, me and him, and we’ll kind of talk through each play and what the intent is and what we’re looking to do,” Johnson said of Goff Wednesday. “In some ways, I can kind of call the game more aggressively, and he understands when the call comes in, ‘Okay, I’ve got the greenlight to push this thing down the field if the look presents itself.’
“But, he’s done a really good job of taking those opportunities when they’re there. But, also the ones that we haven’t thrown, he’s gotten quickly to the checkdown and found completions. And, it’s allowed us, particularly the Jacksonville and Minnesota games, we’re able to call more aggressive down-the-field plays, knowing that he’s going to find a completion, if it’s not there, and keep us going.”
To Johnson, playing turnover-free football is the key to sustaining Goff’s and the offense’s high level of play.
“Okay, the sacks and the turnovers, let’s keep that going, because really, that’s the recipe for success right now for us,” Johnson expressed. “So, it’s been giving us a chance every week.”
If Johnson & Co. want to increase the number of big plays on offense, a good idea would be to work on building the chemistry between Goff and rookie wideout Jameson Williams.
Going into the Lions’ Week 16 contest with the Carolina Panthers, Goff and the former Alabama Crimson Tide speedster have connected on just one pass. It came in Week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings, and ended up amounting to a 41-yard touchdown for Detroit.
The two failed to connect on a shot to the end zone early in the second quarter against the N.Y. Jets this past Sunday. And, now for Johnson, it’s about building the rapport between the veteran signal-caller and the first-year pass-catcher.
“It’s a weekly process, and I think it is coming along,” Johnson said. “We try to push Jamo a little bit more every week, in terms of the routes we’re asking him to run, not just for the game, but also for his development and for Jared’s chemistry with him. We’re trying to see what he’s capable of, and what he’s comfortable with at this point, coming off that injury. So, I think we’ll continue to see a growing connection between those two. It’s just time on task.”
The Lions came out on top, 20-17, in their aforementioned Week 15 matchup with the Jets. It was their sixth win in their last seven games, helping the team get to .500 (7-7) for the first time in 2022.
It’s been quite the turnaround for a Detroit team that started the season 1-6. And, to Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, the team’s vastly improved play has been keyed by the players gaining an understanding of the culture and identity of the Dan Campbell-led squad.
“Guys understand exactly who we are as a defense, the culture of our team and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Glenn expressed Wednesday. “I think it’s two things that’s really missing in football for the most part. I think you could have these defensive gurus, these offensive gurus, man. But, culture and identity means a lot. And, if you can bring that to the table and guys understand that, I mean you — it’s going to create a winning environment.”