Lions driven by painful defeat, back Jared Goff

Dec 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell talks with quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — Adamant the Detroit Lions will be back to the conference championship stage on his watch, Dan Campbell vows to learn from the most painful loss of his coaching career last month in San Francisco.

“To me, you should benefit from every loss. I think if the losses don’t motivate you to not lose again, and for sure not lose an NFC Championship game, then something’s wrong,” Campbell said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “To me, that’s the ultimate. You just don’t want to have that feeling anymore. You should do whatever it takes not to want to feel that. Absolutely we’ll benefit from that.”

Detroit won the NFC North and advanced to the conference title game for the first time since 1993, but the 49ers scored 27 unanswered points to erase a 24-7 halftime deficit and win 34-31.

The loss seemed like the likely final game with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson on Campbell’s staff. He was a finalist to be head coach of the Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks. But Johnson surprised both teams by informing them he was returning to Detroit.

“Here’s what I know about Ben: Ben is not — when Ben is focused on this, he’s focused on this. Nothing is going to move that for him,” Campbell said. “Once this item is done, he can close it and then he’ll move on to the next one. … I know this, he’s more than capable of being a head coach. He’s qualified. By the way people have hired in this league before, he’s more than qualified. But here’s what I love about Ben: Ben’s not going to do anything he doesn’t really want to do or that he doesn’t feel like he’s ready for. I’m glad we got him back. He’s one of us.”

Johnson has been vital elevating the performance of quarterback Jared Goff, who wraps a four-year, $134 million deal at the end of the upcoming season. But the Lions are talking to Goff about a new contract now, and Campbell sounds all but certain he’s the right man at the trigger to get Detroit to the Super Bowl based largely on his growth under Johnson.

He has 9,013 passing yards, 59 touchdowns and 19 interceptions the past two seasons. Patrick Mahomes put up 9,433 yards, 68 touchdowns and 26 interceptions — and lost to Goff — with the Chiefs during the same stretch.

Of course, Mahomes has three shiny Lombardi trophies to show for his efforts and is two years younger than Goff.

During his Tuesday media session, Campbell was asked if the Lions can win a Super Bowl with Goff at quarterback.

“I get it because it hasn’t happened yet,” Campbell said, “but I don’t get it because, take the NFC Championship game, I thought he played a good game for us. He gave us a chance to win that. I just feel like, man, since he’s been here, I’ve seen a quarterback that’s gotten better and better and better, and has grown every year, and I would say has gotten better under pressure every year and really just rose to the challenge. He’s more and more confident, he’s more comfortable. So I’ve said this before, to me, Jared Goff is a winning quarterback. You can win in this league with that guy.”

–Field Level Media

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