Campbell sticking with struggling Goff, but 'he needs to step up'
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell isn't considering a change at quarterback.
That doesn't mean he's happy.
“I'm not putting all of this on Jared Goff, because this is a collective performance by our offense," Campbell said after the Lions fell to 0-6 with a lopsided 34-11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. “But I will say he needs to step up more than he has. He's going to need to put a little bit of weight on his shoulders here, make some throws and do some things.”
Until the Bengals played a soft defense in the fourth quarter, Goff struggled to get the ball down the field. His nine first-half completions went for 48 yards, and 41 of those came after the catch.
Even after leading two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, he finished 28 of 42 for 202 yards and an interception. His 4.8 yards per attempt and 7.2 yards per completion were both season lows. Cincinnati's Joe Burrow threw four touchdown passes and averaged 13.9 yards per completion.
“I don't think defenses are doing anything special to take away our ability to get the ball down the field,” Goff said. “We've just got to start making plays, and that starts with me. We need to get guys open and I need to get them the ball in position to make a play.”
The most obvious example of Detroit's downfield struggles came early in the second quarter. With the Bengals leading 7-0, the Lions faced a 3rd-and-4 from the Cincinnati 38. A blown coverage left tight end T.J. Hockenson wide open on the left side, but Goff's pass sailed high and behind him. An accurate throw likely would have led to a touchdown.
“We were kind of on different pages about where the ball was supposed to be, but I've got to do a better job there,” Goff said. “I've got to lead him and give him a chance on that play.”
Campbell acknowledged his young offense missed a lot of assignments, as did the defense and special teams.
“Our focus wasn't there,” he said. “Give the Bengals credit for playing well, but that team is not 30 points better than us. We weren't even in the fight. That's brutal.”
The problems started early, as the Lions took two penalties before running their second play of the game.
“We talked this week about having a good tempo on offense, and then we came out and went penalty-penalty," Campbell said. “I mean, what the heck? We shot ourselves in the foot, we didn't execute, and when we did have a chance to make a play, we didn't make it.”
Campbell said Goff will be the starter on Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams — the team that traded him to the Lions in the offseason — but he is planning other changes.
“I've got a million ideas about things we could do to get ourselves going, but first I have to sit down and watch this film,” he said. “I know we have a lot to clean up.”
So far, the trade of Goff for Stafford is working out much better for the Rams. Goff has seven touchdown passes and eight turnovers for the winless Lions, while Stafford has thrown for 16 TDs and four interceptions for Los Angeles (5-1).
Goff isn't ready to talk about those comparisons, though. When asked Sunday if he had any thoughts about facing the Rams, his answer was as short as most of his completions.
“No,” he said, ending his news conference.
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