FOX Sports NFL analyst Greg Olsen joined David Helman on “The NFL on FOX Podcast” to explain how Detroit‘s offensive scheme has empowered quarterback Jared Goff and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta to the Lions’ hot start this season.
Olsen, who will be calling the Lions (5-1) vs. Ravens (4-2) game Sunday (1 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), believes that the team’s offensive unit is reaching new heights thanks in large part to Goff rising to the occasion.
“I think when he got there from the [Los Angeles] Rams in that trade (in 2021), they (the Lions) really challenged him to say, ‘Hey, man, if you want to be the quarterback of the future here and not have us look to replace you over the next couple [of] years, you got to improve. You have to challenge yourself,'” Olsen said. “I think Jared Goff has not only done that, [but] I think he [has] completely bought in and leaned into it. The results speak for themselves.
“I’m happy for Jared. That was a tough situation to get traded out and to see your replacement (Matthew Stafford) win a Super Bowl. I don’t care how mentally tough you are. That’s a tough pill to swallow. And he’s not just participating in the success of the Lions — he is a key engine of what makes them go. I think the conversation could be had there, right now, if you had to pick your top five MVPs — and typically, they’re all quarterbacks — I think it’d be hard to make an argument that he’s not in that top five or so guys in that picture.”
Goff, who belongs in the elite QB — and MVP — conversation, is on pace for 4,584 yards and 31 touchdowns this year. He currently ranks first in passes of 20-plus yards with 29 on the season and boasts the third-best QB rating (105.1), yards per attempt (7.97) and first down percentage (37.9%) in the league heading into Week 7.
As for Goff’s new tight end, LaPorta, Olsen sees the rookie becoming a difference-maker in the passing game.
“Obviously, he’s a young player — he’s a rookie — but when I put on the tape, I see him winning those matchups where the play is not just getting him open by design,” Olsen said. “I think that’s an important kind of distinguishing characteristic for a lot of tight ends around the league is, that’s why there’s the [Travis] Kelce‘s of the world. And that’s why there [are] other guys, you know — and it doesn’t mean you can’t be productive, it just means you’re relying on a scheme.
“I think LaPorta has shown early signs that he’s a guy that will benefit from a great scheme, but he’s also having the ability to generate his own opportunities by getting open, and I think that’s easier said than done, let alone for a rookie.”
LaPorta has hauled in 15 balls on 20 targets for 187 yards (12.5 yards per catch) and three touchdowns over his past three games. As a whole, the Lions are averaging 383.7 total yards (third in NFL) and 28.0 points (fourth) per game.
The Lions have recorded 350-plus net yards and 20-plus points in each of the first six games of the season — something that hasn’t happened since 1954. What’s more, Detroit has won four straight games by 14 or more points this season for the first time since 1969 and has produced 20 or more points in its past 15 games — the best mark in franchise history.
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