ALLEN PARK, Mich. — You know when the light turns yellow as you're nearing a high-speed intersection? In that moment, you're faced with a decision: You can hit the brakes or stay on the gas (maybe even giving it a little more), trying to clear the intersection before the light goes red.
There's actually a name for this traffic conundrum drivers routinely face — the dilemma zone. It feels like an appropriate comparison for the decision the Detroit Lions are facing at the quarterback position.
The Lions have a quarterback, a proven winner, under contract for two more seasons. And all season, while assessing the situation, we've been riding the waves of recency bias, trying to figure out whether Jared Goff can be the franchise's long-term solution or simply the bridge to what's next.
Currently, momentum is very much in Goff's favor. For the season, he's completing nearly 65% of his passes and is on pace to throw for nearly 4,300 yards and 27 touchdowns. The interceptions that plagued him early in the year have evaporated in recent weeks, with just one pick in the past six games. And most importantly, the Lions are winning, emerging victorious in four of their past five games.
"I feel like I am playing the best football of my career right now, and I’m starting to settle in a little bit," Goff said this week. (Offensive coordinator) Ben (Johnson) and I have a good thing going, and still a lot of work to do, and you can always improve and look at ways to get better, but I am comfortable and hope to continue that through the season."
Of course, with decisions about the future of the quarterback position, it's unwise to look at the situation through a narrow lens. So here's the big-picture view: Goff has shown he has what it takes to play at a Pro Bowl level and to lead a team to the Super Bowl, but there's also no denying his shortcomings in relation to his peers.
He's never been particularly accurate throwing the deep ball. On throws 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage this season, he's completed 14 of 42 (33.3%). Among quarterbacks who have attempted at least 20 such throws, Goff ranks 24th out of 30 on adjusted accuracy, which factors in drops. And that's actually better than last season. Going back further, he hasn't had an adjusted accuracy above 40% on deep throws since his last Pro Bowl campaign, in 2018.
When it comes to pressure, no quarterback deals with it particularly well, but it's worse with Goff. In 2022, his passer rating drops to 60.8 when disturbed in the pocket, which ranks 18th among 23 qualifying quarterbacks. And he's been at or below that rating when pressured for four of the past five seasons.
That's played a key role in his propensity for turnovers. Despite the recent run of clean play, Goff has still averaged more than a turnover per game during his career. And according to Pro Football Focus, he has committed a turnover-worthy play a career-worst 4.3% of his dropbacks this season, equating to 20 instances where he's either fumbled in the pocket or thrown an interceptable ball. That figure is third-most among QBs this season.
Finally — and it's something that's been increasingly apparent given Detroit's recent run of opponents — Goff lacks mobility in an era where the position is becoming defined by dual-threat passers.