Externally, expectations aren't very high for the Detroit Lions in 2021. In fact, Las Vegas has the over/under for wins set at just five.
Internally, however, quarterback Jared Goff and the Lions have much higher expectations. In Allen Park, the expectations are to win football games and be in the hunt in the NFC North.
Goff said Monday he couldn't care less about the external expectations, though he understands why they are what they are.
"It's a new regime, new staff, they (Lions) weren't very good last year," Goff said. "It's a whole new thing, and I understand it, but just like every other team in this league, there's expectations.
"I don't know what the stat is, but every year there's new teams in the playoffs. Every year there are teams that were in the playoffs last year that aren't. Why not us? Why can't we be that one that wasn't in last year that is this year?
"Again, it starts one week at a time. Internally, our expectations are as high as anyone else."
How good the Lions will ultimately be in 2021 will depend a lot on how good Goff and the Lions' offense can be. Detroit looks to be strong upfront along their offensive line, tight end T.J. Hockenson is a Pro Bowler coming off a terrific training camp, and running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams should be a nice one-two duo. On the flip side, there are question marks at receiver, and there's not much depth along the offensive line after the starting five – but Goff sees the potential.
"I think we've done a good job of pulling people's strengths and using guys' strengths to put them in spots to be effective," he said. "I think that's the No. 1 thing. Constantly looking at, 'Hey, who are the guys we want to get the ball to? What do I like? What am I best at? And then how do we implement that into plays? How do we make that come alive on the field?' Up to this point, I think they've done a tremendous job with that."
Fans didn't see a lot of the starters on offense in the preseason, which is probably why a lot of questions still persist about what the offense will look like with a new quarterback under center for the first time since 2008, and a new offensive coordinator in Anthony Lynn.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Goff and the first-team offense played just 22 snaps in the preseason, and that was back in Week 1. They played two series, but one was an 18-play scoring drive.
That's actually more work in the preseason than Goff's been used to. Before coming over in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Goff and two first-round picks, Goff hadn't played in the preseason since 2017.
"That was the approach taken in LA and it worked for us," Goff said of not playing much in the preseason in LA. "Here we played in the first game and I feel like it's worked. We supplemented it well in practice and have gotten the work we need in and we all trust Dan (Campbell) and I think the plan is great and we're ready to go."
Goff says there's still some things to clean up in the two weeks before Detroit's Week 1 debut against San Francisco at Ford Field, but he likes where the offense is, and he's hopeful they can surprise some people.