Jared Goff has turned the corner as the Detroit Lions seek more than moral victories

As a team, the Detroit Lions boast a 4-13-1 record with Jared Goff as their starting quarterback since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford blockbuster ahead of the 2021 season.

For the outside observer, this is yet another indication of how Goff’s career has fallen off the map after leading Los Angeles to a Super Bowl appearance back in 2018. The former No. 1 pick from CAL deserves a lot of blame for this perception. The drop off during his final two seasons with the Rams was remarkable.

He threw 42 touchdowns against 29 interceptions while leading Los Angeles to an 18-13 mark during that span. In the two years prior, the Rams boasted a 24-7 record with Goff tossing 60 touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions. The fact that Goff fell out of favor so quickly with Rams head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead seemed to be telling.

As for Detroit, trading the only player in Stafford that had made it relevant over the past decade-plus was just another sign of this long-downtrodden organization continuing to make a mockery of itself.

Fast forward roughly 18 months since that Stafford-for-Goff-centric trade, and these Lions are looking like a completely different team under head coach Dan Campbell. Despite a 1-3 start and injuries to core skill-position players, the competitive nature is finally back in Detroit. The three Lions losses have come by a combined seven points. For his part, Goff has statistically outplayed Stafford over their past eight starts. The differences are eye-opening.

Matthew Stafford stats (past eight games): 69% completion, 2,003 yards, 12 TD, 14 INT, 82.5 QB rating

Jared Goff stats (past eight games): 64% completion, 2,091 yards, 20 TD, 5 INT, 101.5 QB rating

As Goff turns this thing around and changes a widespread narrative about his regression, it’s time that the Lions go from accepting moral victories to actually winning games. Here’s how they can do that.

Related: Detroit Lions schedule and game-by-game predictions

Detroit Lions can’t just be happy to be “in the game”

detroit lions jared goff, dan campbell

The belief that you can actually win games against good opponents needs to be part of the lexicon in Detroit. We’re not talking about the 2021 version of these Lions, a team that was outscored by 8.4 points per game and saw its final three losses come by a combined 54 points.

It’s now not as much about the Jared Goff-led offense. As the Lions’ social media account let a trolling fan know recently, they head into Week 5 against the New England Patriots ranked No. 1 in the NFL in scoring. Detroit is averaging 35.0 points per game and is coming off a Week 4 outing in which its offense accumulated 520 total yards and 45 points.

Unfortunately, it came in a losing effort to Seattle with Detroit’s defense putting up a laughably bad performance. That is to say, Seattle dropped 555 total yards while scoring 48 points. This is not acceptable. And it goes to the idea that taking moral victories from losses is the same old defeatist attitude we’ve seen from Detroit since its last playoff win back in 1991.

“Keep supporting them. I’ve been on the other side of that and it’s tough. You keep supporting them. They’ll come around. I trust those coaches. I trust those players. I’ll tell you one thing, I know what happens when you don’t support them. It goes downhill really quickly.”

Detroit Lions’ Jared Goff on the performance of the defense this season

Despite exhausting the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit heads into Week 5 having yielded the most points (141) in league history through four games. Whether it’s a change at defensive coordinator or something else, the status quo is not working. For his part, Campbell believes in coordinator Aaron Glenn.

“I’ve got a ton of faith in Aaron Glenn. I think we sit down and we look at everything together. I think more than anything it’s time for a deep dive,” Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell.

This is the type of leadership that has been missing from Detroit over the better part of the past three decades. Going to bat for those who are struggling while avoiding the finger-pointing game.

Related: Jared Goff and NFL’s top QBs heading into Week 5

Jared Goff can be that X-factor for the Detroit Lions

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Having already appeared in a Super Bowl and now being seen as a veteran presence, Goff can continue to turn the narrative about him on its head. He should be a vocal part of the team — a leader in the truest sense of the term. We are talking about a quarterback who is now in his seventh NFL season and has shared the ups and downs very few players on the roster have experienced.

On the field, Goff’s play has Detroit’s offense looking like a true juggernaut. Even without star running back D’Andre Swift and record-breaking young receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown in Week 4, he was able to put up a dynamic performance for Detroit.

Moving forward, Swift and St. Brown are expected back shortly. If Detroit can earn a road win against a pedestrian Patriots team this coming Sunday, it will head into the bye felling pretty good at 2-3.

That’s a necessity with games coming up against the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers out of the bye. Expect to win. Expect to head into the bye on a high note. Don’t simply be happy to be there.

It’s up to Jared Goff to instill that into his young team, both before Sunday’s kickoff and during the game at Gillette Stadium.

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