Jared Goff was once thought to be one of the NFL’s future stars. But after a few lean years, getting traded to Detroit for Matthew Stafford, and a tough 2021 season, the former No. 1 overall pick entered this year, like many on the Lions, with an awful lot to prove.
He responded with one of the best years of his career, completing 65.1 percent of his passes for 4,438 yards, 29 touchdowns, and a career-low seven interceptions. In the process, he led the Lions to a 9-8 record and their first winning season since 2017, falling just shy of the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with Seattle. It was a big year for Detroit as a team and Goff personally, as he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl for his efforts and re-established himself as a starter in the league.
This week, Goff will take part in P&G’s Battle of the Paddles (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET on Twitch), where eight NFL stars will compete in a ping-pong tournament that has Goff very excited for a chance to show off his skills. We talked with Goff over Zoom on Monday about his reign as the Lions’ ping-pong king, playing for Dan Campbell, what this season meant to him and the Lions, and more.
How was the Pro Bowl? And what did you think of the first year this format with the Pro Bowl Games, flag football, and the way that they changed things up?
Yeah, I thought it was fun. I think now they definitely have ways where they can improve the overall week for us maybe a little bit, but I thought it was really well done. I think the the mini games were fun and the game itself was fun. I’m sure there’ll be tweaks next year, but I think the flag football format keeps it light keeps it fun. But also it was competitive. It was really competitive, certainly towards the end there and guys want to win that little extra money and it was fun.
Yeah, football, particularly, is such a tough sport to play when everybody’s trying to stay healthy and nobody wants to go too hard and flag seems to be able to bring out that competitiveness while also taking away some of that risk. For you as a quarterback, you don’t have a line in front of you and it’s just kind of seven on seven at that point. What was the adjustment you had to make in playing the flag format?
Yeah with the rusher it was different without having guys blocking, and just having a free rusher made it a little bit difficult, and you have to adjust to that and I think we did towards the end there. But it was fun. It was really fun. I think if I had to do it, I would love to do it again. It was really great.
To go back to your season in Detroit, what were you most pleased with? The team was able to produce a 9-8 season and coming up just shy of the playoffs, but made what looked from the outside like some significant strides and built towards what can hopefully be continued growth next year?
Yeah, I think in our last 10 games we were 8-2 and being able to finish like that is really hard in this league. And you know, we did a good job climbing out of the hole we dug ourselves and can come in the next year knowing that we can’t afford a hole like that. You have to come out of the gates firing and I think for our young guys, definitely, it allowed them to grow up a little bit and see what it takes to win and how the third and fourth quarter can change the game. So it was good. We got a lot of good learning and really a good springboard for us coming into this next year.
With Hard Knocks and everything, I think people got to know y’all some and Dan Campbell especially became a guy that I think NFL fans gravitated towards. What is it like playing for a coach like him, with his energy, and what that does for the team?
He’s fun. He really is. He keeps it he keeps it fun, but he also holds us to a pretty high standard and holds us accountable. But, you know, he was a player, so he doesn’t do much coach-speak. He understands what we’ll kind of see through, and he keeps it fun, man. That’s the main thing he does is it keeps us together and allows us to be ourselves and have fun playing this game.
What did this season mean for you personally? I mean, coming out of the trade a couple years ago and your career was in flux and had a lot of people questioning what your place in the league was. Being able to put on the performance that you did this season, what did it mean to you to go out and perform the way you did and kind of re-establish yourself in a sense as a Pro Bowl quarterback in the league?
Yeah, it was good. It was definitely more rewarding doing it with the guys we did it with, the success together, but yeah, I was happy with how I played. Definitely towards the end of the season and was able to settle in pretty nicely, and then coming into this offseason, hope to continue that and continue to make strides in the right direction. But yeah, it was a lot of fun this year and getting to work with those guys that we kind of did not have success with last year, and then do it again this year and have a lot more success is the most rewarding part.
What is it like when you build a rapport with a receiver like Amon-Ra St. Brown? Y’all seemed to really build that connection and what does it do for you as a quarterback when you have that trust that even if maybe he doesn’t have a ton of separation, you just seem to believe that he’s going to be able to come down with that ball?
Yeah, I trust him. I trust him a lot. I trust him in traffic. I trust him over the middle. He goes in there and he sticks his head in there and makes the tough catches and that’s all you can ask for as a quarterback, and I think he’s a very friendly target. He always seems to get himself open and is great after the catch. So he’s everything you want as a receiver and you know, I’m excited just to continue to play with him.
Your partnered with P&G here in Gillette for the for the Battle of the Paddles. What’s your ping pong skill level like? Are you one of the guys that’s in there in the clubhouse playing a bunch?
Yeah. So I’ll be representing Gillette in the in the Battle the Paddles and it’s exciting for me because I’ve been waiting for a moment like this for a long time with my ping pong skill. And you know, we had a little tournament in our locker room last offseason and fortunately I came out on top of that, so I feel like this is the next step is to see the entire NFL and see who’s the see who’s the best player. But yeah, you can you can see it on Twitch at 7 p.m. Eastern and it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s exciting to be able to represent your team and be able to hopefully get come out with a W.
Is there anybody you’re looking forward to maybe seeing on the table?
I’ve got Budda Baker in round one. Would love to play [Christian] McCaffrey and take him down. Trevor Lawrence just beat me in the Pro Bowl and our little game we had, so I want to take him down. Yeah, it’ll be fun.