Is Jared Goff good? A complex answer to a simple question

The question has been asked, and will continue to be asked, is Jared Goff any good?

Fans ask this question while the Detroit Lions‘ offense puts up absurd, league-leading statistics that have brought us to question whether Jameson Williams was a luxury pick or not. This comes in tandem with national praises for the Lions' starting QB and a running game that has impressed through four games this season.

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This all leads to the honest question fans, and I have had to ask ourselves after some impressive showings by #16. Advanced stats seem to be the only reliable way to answer this question in an efficient and forthright manner. Looking only at yardage, touchdowns, and the like will not give a full picture, as any football fan knows. Scheme and designed plays that can bolster passing stats, like a screenplay or rub route, can inflate numbers and make a quarterback look better than he actually is.

What do reputable outlets say about one Jared Thomas Goff?

We'll start with Pro Football Focus, who have the Lions signal-caller at 22nd overall in their QB rankings. Some questionable entries preceded Jared Goff, with Geno Smith taking the #1 slot, no doubt inflated by a paltry Detroit Lions defense. Jacoby Brissett, Davis Mills, Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Daniel Jones have rated ahead of Goff as well.

Jared Goff pff

Ok, maybe PFF wasn't the way to go with this one. Let's move on to advanced stats.

Breaking down Jared Goffs Advanced Statistics

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We'll lead off with two stats that at least take some credence away from the accusation that Jared Goff does not push the ball downfield; IAY & IAY/PA. IAY is the total intended air yards on all passing attempts, while IAY/PA is the average depth of the target the pass is being attempted towards. 

According to Pro Football Reference, Jared Goff is second in the entire NFL in total IAY at 1335 yards, second only to Carson Wentz, who has 1341 IAY with 21 more pass attempts. To pair with a considerable amount of total intended air yards, Goff is seventh in the league in IAY/PA at 8.8 yards per attempt. These numbers shed considerable light on the fact Jared Goff is pushing the ball downfield and is not afraid to attempt these passes. Being seventh in the league at almost 9 yards per attempt is impressive and flies in the face of a narrative that hasn't held true for Goff.

What many detractors may then point to is a statistic that does not help the case of Goff nearly as much. Despite his league-leading stats in IAY, the CAY shows a different story. CAY is air yards per completion, which shows Goff completing his passes at a far shorter rate than what his passes are intended for, leading to a clear indication he may not have the arm strength to get downfield.

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Goff's completed air yards per completion, a metric counting how far past the line of scrimmage a ball traveled before the catch, has Goff at a league average of 15th at 6.2 yards. A full 2.6 yards less than his IAY, Goff is tossing the ball shorter than the route is intended on average by a sizeable margin. Turning the metric away from CAY/cmp to CAY/PA, we see that Goff is again league average at 3.8 yards per completed pass attempt. Goff also benefits from the seventh-most yardage after the catch in the league at 6 yards per catch.

Is Jared Goff Accurate?

So Jared Goff is trying to push the ball downfield but is coming up short on his completions; what about his accuracy?

Goff is 12th in the league at throwing bad balls to receivers, 18.5% of the time to be exact. Meanwhile, his on-target throws are also around the middle of the league at 13th, 76% here. Two metrics have helped and hurt Goff respectively when it comes to these numbers; due to a stellar offensive line, Goff has had zero passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, while Goff has had the most drops (13) in the NFL through four games. A tale of two stories yet again; Goff has been greatly helped by his line while also being hurt by receivers dropping catches.

Furthering the details on the offensive line help for Goff, multiple metrics show that #16 simply hasn't received the same level of pass-rushing pressure as other QBs in the NFL. Goff has faced the 18th most blitzes in the league, been hurried 25th most, has been hit the 15th most, pressured on his dropbacks a remarkably 29th most, and sacked the 29th most out of all quarterbacks who have played this season. Whether it be by Ben Johnson‘s play design, defensive schemes dropping six or more players, or simply an offensive line that has done its job, no one can say that Jared Goff has been in passing situations where he can't excel.

I think where my argument would turn to say Jared Goff has been exactly what he is supposed to be for this franchise following his statistics regarding play-action. We at DSN have covered the profoundly good rushing attack of the Lions, which has, in turn, caused hesitancy for defenses that are perfect for play-action fakes. Jared Goff, with this play design, has had the fourth most passes from play action at 36, plus he is third in the league in yardage off play action at 325. The Lions are scheming for the play-action fake, and Jared Goff delivers on that play type.


The moral of this statistical tale is to paint a complex answer to the simple question; Is Jared Goff good? He is serving the explicit purpose of this team by being efficient with the ball, leaning into the play-action fakes, and attempting to push the ball downfield with accuracy and minimal issues at the line of scrimmage.

The negatives for Goff involve the fact that he simply has seen no adversity in the pass rush. His offensive line has left him largely unscathed; he is not being pressured or touched in a way that can justify a league-average on-target rate and average air yards per completion. A differential of 2.6 yards between pass attempts and completed passes in air yardage show clearly that Goff is trying to move the ball downfield but is throwing his receivers short. Could that be factoring into his league-leading amount of drops by receivers? Potentially.

All told, Jared Goff can only be said to be one thing above all else for the Detroit Lions; a quarterback who serves his purpose well while having certain limitations that may hold back a more explosive offensive attack when T. J. Hockenson, De'Andre Swift, Jameson Williams, and Amon-Ra St. Brown all see the field at the same time. For now, my answer to the question of Jared Goff being good or not is simply that he is good enough for now, and that has made the Lions the #1 offense in the league.

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