Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.
Jared Goff decision could define Lions for years to come
Yes, we know the Lions’ defense stinks and was the story of a 48-45 loss to Seattle on Sunday.
But while that’s the problem, the biggest key toward finding solutions to fixing the defense is figuring out what to do with quarterback Jared Goff.
When Goff was acquired in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles, Goff had four years left on his contract, but the salary cap hit would be manageable (going from $30 million to $10 million after the 2022 season) after two years if the Lions had to cut Goff.
The key part of the trade for the Lions were the two first-round draft picks, and since Goff slumped badly in his waning days with the Rams after leading them to a Super Bowl, the prevailing thought at the time of the trade was that the Lions would ride it out with Goff for two years while the rebuild started, then use draft capital to get a franchise quarterback as more talent was brought into the organization.
Lo and behold, Goff seems to be resurrecting his career so far this year, and in the process potentially creating a franchise-altering conundrum for the Lions.
The Lions have scored more points than anyone in the NFL so far this year, with Goff completing 60.9% of his passes for 1,126 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 99.9.
If that keeps up, that’ll mean extension talks will really heighten in the offseason, with Goff and his camp demanding a hefty raise based on where the current market is for starting quarterbacks.
Goff proving he’s the long-term answer is the best-case scenario for the Lions, who then can focus all their draft capital (their own first rounder and Rams’ first rounder this year) on fixing their awful defense.
But do the Lions trust it’s a permanent return to form for Goff? Can you ultimately win a Super Bowl with him?
Do they pony up $40 million a year or so to keep Goff, or do they try and draft a prized, but unproven, rookie quarterback and use his cheap rookie contract years to free up money and fix the defense?
These are questions that will alter the Lions franchise for many years going forward, and likely define the tenure of general manager Brad Holmes.
Thanks to Goff’s play so far this year, it’s becoming a situation few thought the Lions would have to deal with when he was acquired.
Line play dominates for Wolverines
For all the focus the quarterback situation has gotten this year for Michigan, there’s been one constant for the Wolverines en route to a 5-0 start: U-M has dominated up front on both sides of the ball.
An Iowa team that has traditionally been stout along the offensive and defensive lines wasn’t even a match for U-M during Saturday’s game.
The offensive line sprung running back Blake Corum for 133 yards on 29 carries, while the defensive line limited Iowa to 35 yards rushing.
Up next for the Wolverines is what should be an easy one at Indiana in what increasingly is looking like a two-game schedule the rest of the way, home against Penn State on Oct. 15 and the regular-season finale at Ohio State.
Spartan Stadium to be Columbus North
Whenever Ohio State visits Michigan State, there is quite a bit of red in the stands. And those are in years where Michigan State has a good record going in.
With Michigan State reeling and fans bailing on this season already, it’s not an exaggeration to say the crowd will consist 75% of Ohio State fans on Saturday when the teams meet at Spartan Stadium.
You certainly can’t blame students and other MSU ticket holders for starting a bidding war among Ohio State fans who want to attend the game and are in need of tickets.
If there’s nothing to be gained emotionally from watching the Spartans likely get routed again by the Buckeyes, at least there’s something to be gained for them financially.