Jared Goff's second season with the Lions was electric.
In his seventh year in the NFL, Goff completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 4,438 yards and a sterling 29-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With the Detroit offense leading the way, Goff's Lions finished 9-8 and narrowly missed the playoffs, setting expectations higher than they've been in years entering 2023.
The developments came as a surprise to most everyone -- except those in Detroit's facility. Coach Dan Campbell thinks Goff's success came, surprisingly, as a result of Campbell's staff asking him to handle more than he did with the Rams, with whom he spent his first five NFL seasons.
That, plus the trust of Campbell's collection of coaches, has given Goff the confidence he needs to succeed.
"I think he's settled in with us, he's gotten very comfortable with what we want to do," Campbell said. "I think he's, you know everybody knows what he came from, and that wasn't the easiest thing. You know you get traded, you're another team, 'what's going on, I thought I was playing pretty good, maybe I'm not,' is that the perception, then you get here and you try to find your way with a new staff, like we are, a new offense. But he just hung in there, and I think what you're seeing is a guy who just put his head down and went back to work, and worked on what he could, tried to improve on what he could, and now his confidence has really grown, and along the way he's matured as a quarterback.
"I mean he's a better quarterback than he was there, in my opinion, because he can do more things, he's mentally on it. I mean we've come light-years ahead of where he was two years ago when we walked in to start teaching him protections. He really dove into that, and he's got a really good grasp of what we're doing, where the issues are, what the problems are, and that's something that we really wanted him to get good at, and he wanted to get good at. And he's worked at it, and he's improved, so that helps too."
Goff's 2022 numbers weren't the best of his career -- those landed in his career stat log back in the 2018 season, a campaign in which the quarterback's Rams reached the Super Bowl. But the numbers were mighty close and were recorded with less talent around him than he had in Los Angeles.
They've also helped change the perception of Goff, at least somewhat. With two first-round picks in hand, some wondered whether the Lions might pull the plug on Goff and take a quarterback in the 2023 draft. Instead, the Lions selected two players in the first 34 picks (Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta) who portend to be new targets for Goff, a quarterback in whom they've expressed plenty of confidence entering 2023.
The new toys should further assist Goff in leading a Lions offense that finished fourth in yards per game in 2022, a task with which Campbell's staff is comfortable assigning to Goff.
"We ask him to do a lot more, in my opinion, than what they were actually doing out there," Campbell said. "They had a lot of pretty good pieces out there, as we know, damn good defense and all those things, but I feel like I know from speaking with him and watching him over the last two years, I just feel like we put a lot of things on him where I'm not so sure that was ultimately what they were doing."
Relinquishing control means more freedom for Goff, which worked quite well in 2022. Detroit will hope to enjoy more of the same success in 2023, with one key difference: reaching the playoffs.