New offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is smart enough to know the Lions' offense will only be as good as its most important player – quarterback Jared Goff.
It was a tale of two halves for Goff in his first season in Detroit in 2021 after coming over from the Los Angeles Rams in the trade for Matthew Stafford. After a slow start offensively under then coordinator Anthony Lynn, Johnson was elevated to pass-game coordinator midseason and head coach Dan Campbell took over play calling.
The offense improved dramatically after the switch, as did Goff's play. He recorded a 3-2-1 record with 11 touchdowns vs. just two interceptions and a passer rating north of 100.0 in his final six starts.
Named Detroit's new offensive coordinator this offseason, Johnson said his No. 1 mission is to get Goff playing the best football of his career in 2022.
"I've got a really strong relationship with Jared right now," Johnson said Thursday. "One of my top priorities, personally, is to help him have the best season of his career."
Goff has been a big part of the process in building Johnson's new offense in Detroit.
"One thing that we've done is included him a lot in what we're trying to do schematically, and so we spent some time this offseason watching more of the stuff he did a few years ago in LA and how we can incorporate some of that, while also challenging him to take the next step in some areas of improvement for him as a player as well," Johnson said.
"He's having a good offseason, though. I'm really encouraged with where he is."
The two best seasons of Goff's career came with the Rams in 2017 and 2018, when he earned back-to-back Pro Bowl nods. In 2018, he led the Rams to the Super Bowl after throwing for 4,688 yards with 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and had a 101.1 passer rating. He didn't play well in the Super Bowl loss to New England, and LA moved on from him just two years later after the 2020 season.
But when Goff was at his best in LA, they had a consistent run game, a good offensive line and he had skill position weapons he could utilize in the play-action pass game. Any of that sound familiar to Lions fans?
Johnson and Goff got together this offseason to talk football, watch film and see what Goff likes and dislikes schematically. Johnson said it was a bonding experience between quarterback and coordinator.
Johnson is a smart young coordinator with a creative offensive mind, and he's built this offense to maximize the skillsets of his personnel, especially his quarterback.
View photos from Day 5 of Detroit Lions OTA practices on Thursday, June 2, 2022 in Allen Park, Mich.
"Conceptually, there are a number of things that come to mind when I see a defense and how we want to attack it," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, we want to do what our quarterback does well. I think when you look back at his time in LA, he was really successful with certain schemes, with certain concepts. We're just going to look to incorporate some of those a little bit more.
"I know play-action is something he's really good at, and we're going to look at doing that. It's really a strength of our offense as well. We're going to be a really good running team, so that's going to show up on Sundays in the play-action and the movement game."
Johnson said Goff's taken pride in being able to speak up and take some ownership of the offense, while still being willing to be coached and coached hard.
"That to me is the most encouraging thing about his development," Johnson said. "He's still growing as a player. He's not close-minded. He's had a lot of success. He's gone to a Super Bowl, but at the same time he wants to continue to push the envelope open and continue to get better."