Instead of the timid passer who avoided taking chances and checked it down meekly over and over, Goff actually resembled a competent NFL passer when his team needed it most.
"We tried to really -- we’re trying to hone in on this pass game a little bit and trying to get some confidence in him," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said, following the Lions' 29-27 victory against the Vikings. "Really trying to make it clear for him and our guys, our receivers, too. That’s -- here’s the vision for it, here’s the look we’re looking for."
In Detroit's first victory of the season, the 27-year-old quarterback went 13-of-17 for 185 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
What surprised many was his aggressiveness and willingness to pass into tight windows.
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“It’s just confidence in the play and confidence in what we were looking at. I felt great on all of those throws and we had repped them, and we’ve done it for a few weeks, and get it on field and get the look for it," Goff said postgame. "And, I’m confident in T.J. (Hockenson), I’m confident in Brock (Wright), and you step on it and you make the throw. That’s all there is to it. It’s really not any magic spell or something. It’s just being confident in what we’re doing and stepping through stuff.”
Both tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Brock Wright were the beneficiary of Goff's increased aggressiveness, aiding the team with first-half touchdown receptions.
What Goff will need to continue to improve upon for the remainder of the season is read progression and increased patience before making the decision to check it down.
"There again, you play the odds -- this is what we’re -- high probability, this is the look you get, and this is where we want to go with it. It doesn’t always work out that way, but a lot of those looks showed up today," Campbell said. "Some of them didn’t. Some of them didn’t, but he was able to progress through and, shoot, T.J.’s (Hockenson) first long catch he had over the middle, where it was targeting. That was a progression, that was kind of a second choice or, if you will, of coverage dictates it doesn’t go where we thought it was going to go and it goes bad, which was good. He did a good job of that today."
Something to pay attention to the remainder of the season is the evolution and increased role of tight ends coach Ben Johnson in the passing game.
"I’ll bring this up again -- Ben Johnson has a lot to do with that, as well. He’s really helped in just kind of clearing up things and helping with Goff as well and our receivers," Campbell explained. "And just kind of helping me and us get everything in order. And A-Lynn (Anthony Lynn). It’s been good.”