With Week 5 officially in the books, it's time to shine a spotlight on the league's standout performer and hand out a "Game Ball." I will do this every week from now until the end of the season. Take a peek at the previous winners if you missed those.
Week 2: Houston Texans WR, Nico Collins
Week 3: Entire Detroit Lions Defense
After grinding every single snap from the week, I will be bringing to the table a combination of film analysis and advanced data to break down the week’s most outstanding player or unit.
It seems like we get a three-TD performance from a skill player nearly every week these days. This week we had Ja’Marr Chase, DJ Moore, and George Kittle. And while statistical outputs are a great starting point for finding standout performers, I like to look a little deeper. This week I am rolling with someone who has been on absolute fire for an extended stretch of time now, and throw for throw was the most impressive QB in the league for Week 5.
My Week 5 Game Ball goes to Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff.
THE KING IN THE NFC NORTH!
Like Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow, after a bit of success, Goff was cast off — labeled as the bastard son of Sean McVay and exiled to the North. But it turns out Goff has royal bloodlines.
The Lions QB is arguably playing the best football of his career, and Sunday against the Panthers, he raised the bar to another level. Goff’s performance was the closest thing to flawless I have seen from a quarterback in quite some time.
When I say flawless, I am not using hyperbole either. Goff attempted 28 passes on Sunday, completing 20, but only 1 of his incompletions were due to a miss by him (96.1% catchable ball rate). 4 of 8 incompletions were dropped, 2 were throw-aways, and one was a catchable ball slightly underthrown that was contested. That leaves just one overthrow to David Montgomery late in the second half. Using the three-year sample we have here at Fantasy Points Data, THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
GOFF THE TECHNICIAN
This was an absolute clinic in everything you look for from a premier QB. A lot of times, we view QB play from strictly a results-based lens without much concern for how we got to said result. In my opinion, the easiest way to predict future success for a quarterback is to pay more attention to the details of the process — the “how,” regardless of result.
Right now, Goff is performing all the quarterback minutiae at one of the highest levels in the NFL, and it’s the things that make his success repeatable (like in the past 15 weeks).
From the buttery smooth footwork in the pocket, his fundamental and consistent throwing mechanics, and a mastery of the mental aspect, all of it was on full display this past Sunday. The way Goff routinely got through his progressions and delivered accurate throw after accurate throw was almost robotic — but not in the “mechanical” way that led McVay to cast him off. Many of his reps featured beautiful timing and anticipation — extremely high-level stuff.
Goff calmly yet decisively took what the defense gave him, forcing nothing, but hitting the big plays when they were there. At Fantasy Points Data, we charted Goff for four “hero” throws. Hero throws are throws we consider to be of the highest degree of difficulty, on which either the throw itself beats the coverage or maximizes the result of a big play downfield. Four is a lot for any QB, especially one that only throws 26 aimed passes. This is one of the turning points in Goff’s story with the Lions. He no longer has to rely on short passes or Ben Johnson to scheme up a wide-open TD (which happens a lot, by the way). He has been able to go to the next level and make plays that you win because of.
STILL GETTING BETTER
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Goff’s performance Sunday was his response to early season struggles against two-high coverage shells, or what we call “middle of the field open.” Goff traditionally has been at his best against “middle of the field closed” looks (single-high), and coming into Sunday’s game, Goff had been discernibly worse against two-high looks with an accurate ball rate of just 40.1% (over 20% lower than vs. single-high looks) and a passer rating of just 64.7. Against the Panthers, Goff shredded two-high looks going 11 for 12 for 89 yards and 2 TDs (137.2 passer rating).
The Lions are on the prowl hunting a goal that has eluded them since 1991 — WIN A PLAYOFF GAME. Goff’s play will be the deciding factor on whether they get there or not. Goff is hoping the ending to his story doesn’t just end with him being the King in the North, but of all the NFL. His play on the field through five weeks makes this a legitimate possibility.