Jared Goff’s conviction to play and more from Lions’ 27-23 preseason loss

DETROIT — Perhaps more was learned about Jared Goff from what happened in the days prior to the game than the 10 plays he was on the field on Friday night.

Coach Dan Campbell was going to keep the quarterback out, but when Goff found out the offensive line starters were in, that is where he wanted to be.

“I didn’t want those guys out there without me,’’ Goff said following the 27-23 preseason loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Goff and the offensive starters played the opening drive which was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown run by D’Andre Swift.

“I will say this about Goff. I was proud of him. We didn’t intend to play him. He came into my office and said, ‘I want to play.’ And I said, ‘You’re not playing.’ He said, ‘If they’re playing, I’m playing.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ I appreciate that about him,’’ Campbell said, noting that he liked Goff’s conviction.

Except for a scratchy throat, Goff was healthy. Campbell was just going to let him rest.

Starting left tackle Taylor Decker said he was fired up when he heard that Goff wanted to play. 

Goff went 3 of 4 for 47 yards on that drive.

“He went out there and ran the offense. That’s really what you’re looking for in your ‘ones’. You want to see them play fast and efficiently down the field and score a touchdown,’’ Campbell said.

The five offensive line starters never got a chance to play one game together due to injuries last season so they were happy to be out there together.

Decker said he thinks the line played with a bit of swagger. He attributed it to open communication and comfort playing with each other.

Backup quarterbacks: Tim Boyle (9 of 16, 111 yards) got off to a rocky start on his first drive but the offense scored a field goal and he passed to Devin Funchess for a touchdown during his time on the field. Early in the third quarter he threw an interception, giving Atlanta the ball on Detroit’s 15, but the Falcons had to settle for a field goal.

David Blough made his case to be the No. 2 quarterback when he came out hot – passing for 26 yards on his first throw and leading the offense down the field for a field goal late in the third quarter. He was 6 of 9 for 59 yards on that drive along with a 9-yard keeper.

More impressive were his pair of fourth down passes on a drive in the fourth quarter that ended in a field goal. A fumble and loss with two minutes left ended the game for him but overall it was a good performance. He finished 18 of 28 for 141 yards.

“I’m not displeased with those guys at all,’’ Campbell said of Blough and Boyle.

Hutchinson debuts: Of course, all eyes were on rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson. The Michigan product did not disappoint. On his first two snaps he had back-to-back tackles, the second one for a 2-yard loss. 

“It was awesome. I’m glad I got the opportunities and plays came my way,’’ said Hutchinson who finished with two tackles.

“Obviously no game is perfect. I was out there for a few plays, I’ve got to clean some things up.’’

The music: “Billie Jean” was played at Ford Field late in the second quarter while Metallica’s “No Leaf Clover” was blared over the speakers to start the fourth quarter. Both songs figured prominently in the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Hutchinson was shown singing the Michael Jackson hit and Campbell quoted from “No Leaf Clover” speaking to the team.

Next up: Friday night was Lions’ only preseason home game. Next they’re on the road at Indianapolis on Aug. 20 (1 p.m.) and at Pittsburgh on Aug. 28 (4:30 p.m.) Detroit’s regular season opener is on Sept. 11 at Ford Field against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions were 0-3 in preseason in 2021 with two of those games at Ford Field.

Lions competition for backup QB takes next step with preseason games

In his previous six NFL seasons Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff has never been in a quarterback room with the same three guys two years in a row — until now.

This training camp he’s working with David Blough and Tim Boyle once again. All three are 27 and get along fine on and off the field. 

“It’s been fun with those guys, they keep it light, they keep it fun, they’re both extremely competitive and it’s fun for me to have guys like that to be competitive on the field,’’ Goff said after Tuesday’s training camp practice.

While Goff has more starting experience (83 NFL games), he learns from both of them.

“They both have had their fair share of playing time and they’ve both played around really good quarterbacks as well so I’ll bounce things off them all the time,’’ Goff said.

Goff, who is entering his second season in Detroit, is expected to start Friday night’s preseason opener against the Falcons at Ford Field. But the game will be more important for Boyle and Blough who are vying for the backup role.

“I feel both of those guys had a good week last week — Boyle and Blough. I feel that they’re both better than they were in the spring and I’ll just say it’s still somewhat early in camp until we get these preseason games. I think that will tell a lot for us,’’ Lions coach Dan Campbell said on Tuesday.

If Goff went down, Campbell said he feels both of them could step in and take over the offense.

“I think they’re both different in what they do. Blough is a little scrappier, he’s going to find a way. That’s what he’s about. He can certainly run the offense,’’ Campbell said.

“Boyle has got all the gifts, all the traits and he’s consistently doing it. Again, he’s got to do this in preseason games. Let’s see where he’s progressed from last year,’’ the coach added.

Last season, Boyle was No. 2 and got three starts. Blough had five starts in 2019 and none last season.

“Getting some game reps last year allowed me to settle into my routine, pre-snap. Every play I feel like I have a certain checklist for pre-snap. Playing those games last year helped me formulate that process,’’ Boyle said. “I feel really comfortable, I love the offense, I love where we’re heading. It’s been a good camp so far.’’

While preseason games aren’t as crucial for guys who have nailed down starting roles Blough and Boyle know it’s their time to prove themselves.

“I’m excited. Every opportunity you get whether it’s the preseason or regular season game to go and play against other guys who have the same dream we do,’’ Blough said. “You want the ball in your hands with two minutes to go to win the game. I think that’s how a lot of the preseason games come down, it will be fun on Friday night.’’

Each game – even if it’s preseason – provides a learning experience for all three

When Goff is in the game, the backup provides another set of eyes.

“I think there’s a lot of things that go into it,’’ Blough said. “It’s seeing looks. I got to see Chase Daniel do it for a year as the second guy (in 2020). He was as prepared as our starter (Matthew Stafford) was.’’

Campbell said it’s too early to know if they will keep two or three quarterbacks on the roster. The decision will be more about the numbers at the other positions.

Five things to know about Lions 51-29 loss at Seahawks

While COVID and injuries have decimated the roster for weeks, on Sunday at Seattle the Detroit Lions were outmatched and outplayed in the 51-29 loss.

Coach Dan Campbell has found bits of magic here and there during the two-win season, but it was difficult to find positives on Sunday except for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown who continues to excel in his rookie season.

Detroit’s defense could not stop the Seahawks’ run game or Russell Wilson. It was a mismatch in the trenches all day long. It was not an unexpected loss and, in fact, the Lions (2-13-1) were better in the second half, once again showing off their never-give-up spirit.

Five things to know:

1. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to amaze. Doesn’t matter that the surrounding cast is depleted, this guy moves. On Sunday he became the first rookie in NFL history with at least eight catches in five straight games. In the loss, he also scored his first rushing touchdown along with eight catches for 111 yards and one receiving touchdown. Remember he was a fourth-round draft pick. 

2. The Lions did not appear to give up even when they were down 31-7 to start the second half. Credit to Campbell. Several of the young guys are trying to earn a roster spot in Detroit or elsewhere for next season. That helps, but not enough. Campbell has somehow got them playing hard for 60 minutes no matter the score. In the second half Detroit actually outscored Seattle, 22-20. (Sometimes you have to dig deep to find a positive.)

3. Dan Campbell continued his aggressive play-calling throughout and not just on fourth down. In the third quarter he had Tim Boyle throw to offensive lineman Matt Nelson who couldn’t keep his mitts on the ball. Then he tossed a touchdown pass to left tackle Taylor Decker. Didn’t see that coming. Of course, a lack of healthy tight ends made that an option. When the Lions get more talent, hope Campbell keeps up with the aggressiveness and out-of-the-box calls.

4. Quarterback Tim Boyle, in his third career start, threw for an interception to start the second half but redeemed himself a bit with a touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown in the third quarter. Boyle is who he is. He is not Jared Goff (knee) who was watching from the sidelines. Boyle finished 22 of 37 for 262 yards (a career-high), two touchdowns and three interceptions.

5. Defensively Detroit had no answer for running back Rashaad Penny who had 25 carries for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This is the same defense that held the Falcons to 47 rushing yards in the previous week’s loss. The Seahawks finished with 497 net yards including 265 rushing yards. Campbell is in it to win it until the bitter end and it is obvious he has got his players thinking the same way.

NEXT UP:  Green Bay Packers at Lions at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9, to close out Detroit’s season. The bitter end.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)