There is a lot of new for Jared Goff in 2021 as he kicks off his sixth NFL season: A new city, new team, new offensive coordinator and all new weapons to try to get in sync with.
While there's a lot of new for Golf as his begins his first season as the Detroit Lions starting quarterback Sunday at Ford Field, there's at least a little familiarity with Detroit's Week 1 opponent – the San Francisco 49ers.
"Yeah, it will definitely help a little bit," Goff said Wednesday before practice about facing a familiar NFC West opponent Week 1. "I know those guys fairly well from just playing against them over the years, but I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles for us and some new things for the first game of the season.
"So, we'll see, but I've got a lot of respect for those guys. A lot of talented players on that defense. It will be a challenge, but fun."
Goff spent the last five seasons in the same division as the 49ers with the Los Angeles Rams. Over the last four seasons, Goff has seven starts against San Francisco with a 3-4 record. He's completed 133-of-217 passes (61 percent) for 1,490 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions for a 94.06 passer rating.
It's expected to be a little bit of a new-look defense in San Francisco with new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans taking over, but Goff knows the defensive personnel pretty well over there and the hope is some of that can translate to Sunday for Detroit's offense.
"I think it helps," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. "He's faced those guys numerous times over the last – whatever it is, four years. It's really been the same scheme. (49ers Defensive Coordinator) DeMeco (Ryans) will do some things that are a little bit different, but for the most part, I think they're going to keep the essence of what that defense is, the front and some of the coverage-base things.
"I can see them wanting to play a little more man against us and we'll have a plan for that as well. But it does help. It does help because he knows that personnel and he knows what they have done traditionally. I think it does help a little bit."
Here's what the five Lions voted captains by their teammates had to say about the honor:
- Goff (offense): "It's always an honor, for sure. Something you don't take lightly. Something you earn. I'm proud to be a captain. Again, you don't take it lightly and happy it all worked out."
- C Frank Ragnow (offense): "I think it's one of the biggest honors of all team sports. I'm just very grateful, you know? It's pretty cool to be seen as a leader by your teammates and your peers. I'm humbled and excited to lead these guys."
- OLB Trey Flowers (defense): "It's a testament to my character and the way I play football. A lot of people say 'The Patriots Way' but I've been playing that way before I even got in the league. It's always been respecting the game, understanding the importance it is to be detailed, just the importance it is to be an example before you kind of speak as much. I do understand that my words can encourage others, so I find the right times to speak. I just think they (my teammates) see the way I work and the way I go about things and how I hold myself to high standards."
- LB Alex Anzalone (defense): "It's obviously an honor. The biggest honor you can have as a player is when your teammates vote you captain. I just try to lead by example and do my job and do it the right way, so I don't know whether that played a role in that, but it's definitely an honor."
- LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (special teams): "It's definitely dope just having the respect of my teammates. I think they kind of respect what I stand for and just kind of how I go about things in the building. I'm definitely appreciative of my teammates for that."
The Lions traded with Denver to make sure they got wide receiver Trinity Benson on roster cutdown day last week. The question now is how big of a role can Benson have with just a week's worth of practice in a new offense under his belt.
Benson said it was a crash course this week, and Campbell joked that both he and KhaDarel Hodge (picked up on waivers after cuts) won't get much sleep this week, but he seemed optimistic about both players knowing enough to help Sunday.
"He's a pretty polished receiver and to really get – we came out here Monday and to watch him run around and do some of our one-on-one routes and routes on air and things of that nature, I was pleased," Campbell said of Benson. "He's got a little something to him, which is another reason why (GM) Brad (Holmes) made the move that he did. We like this guy. We think he can really help us, I do."
Campbell said Benson has the ability to play both inside and outside, but the team will work him more on the outside to begin with and see where they can take him from there.
FORD FIELD CROWD
For the first time since the 2019 season, fans are expected to fill up Ford Field for the Lions regular-season opener against the 49ers Sunday. Campbell had a message for the 65,000 or so planning to attend Sunday's game.
"I would say the message is, 'Your energy feeds our energy.' I really believe that," he said. "Like last year, there was so much of an emphasis on creating your own energy because you had to. To know that you're going to be back in front of your home fans that are eager, they're anxious, they're ready to go, I think just gives you that much more of a little bit of a boost.
"I think that it can play a factor for our guys on third down, I do. I think that there is such a thing as a home-field advantage. When you can't hear out there and you can't communicate properly, I think mistakes get made for your opponent. I'm looking for a rowdy house. I expect them to be loud and I expect us to give them something that they can be loud about. That's the plan."
- The Lions hired Kevin Bastin as their new head trainer. Bastin served in the same role for the team from 2014-18. Bastin will replace Dave Granito, who was let go during training camp.