The Lions may be NFL’s hottest team, and Jared Goff one of its best stories

here’s a long list of things Jared Goff could easily have become instead of what he is right now: the fired-up quarterback on arguably the hottest team in the NFL.

Yes, there are plenty of heat, fire and temperature references, but there’s no other way to describe what’s going on with Goff and the Detroit Lions as pro football’s most remarkable plot twist continues apace.

We didn’t see that coming, because, well, history has taught us to assume a certain level of seasonal ineptitude from the Lions. It’s just as noteworthy for how the NFL world had come to see Goff, a former No. 1 overall pick but not long ago poised to become something drastically removed from an elite quarterback.

Related reading: Jared Goff has become the latest trade currency for the Lions

Goff could have become a backup somewhere, because that’s the kind of general path he took when he was shipped out of Los Angeles along with picks in exchange for Matthew Stafford, a trade that ultimately led the Rams on a Super Bowl winning trip.

Maybe he would have become an official, bouncing around the league in search of one of those few landing spots where below-average QB play is acceptable because the franchise is in a slump anyway.

He could, if his mind was inclined to it, get angry and pout and walk out of the NFL with a bad attitude, behind a narrative waiting to happen that he had had enough opportunities to get right things and that would never add up. too.

Instead, none of this happened.

Instead, even at 1-6 after a 3-13-1 season and hope dwindling, Goff held on, believing that what everyone else thought on the outside didn’t match what he saw inside, he found confidence in himself and his teammates. — and became the arm and mind behind an incredible tear during the winter months.

He has become, through a seven-game showing that has yielded six wins and forced the Lions into strong playoff contention, a go-to guy for good times and bad times, a clutch performer and a voice of leadership, an architect of both nuanced and old games. trendy, simple, just make the damn fortress.

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He has made the most of his assets; a strong offensive line, two talented running backs to deliver it and a sure receiver to throw it to, in Amon-Ra St. Brown. On the other hand, a stout defense is keeping Detroit in close games, and they’re finally winning them.

“It’s a good, mature team now,” Goff told reporters. “We’re starting to believe … we don’t start it, we fully believe in each other. You just know somebody’s going to make a play to do something right and that’s half the battle and that’s showing us a lot right now.”

Goff’s tenacity probably has Dan Campbell’s job, and we can be thankful for that, because Campbell is nothing short of one of the nicest head coaches to be around, a guy who isn’t afraid to be weird and give determined support for their players.

And now, with the Carolina Panthers next Saturday (Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), Goff has a chance to turn his team’s record, currently 7-7, into a positive and do it those postseason dreams a serious possibility.

“The Lions feel like a playoff team,” FS1’s Colin Cowherd said on “The Herd.” “The Lions can win a shootout; an ugly, low-scoring game. Detroit is playing much better defense now. Goff, when he has a clean pocket … I feel Detroit.”

Why now, Jared Goff? As in, why has he become the Jared Goff worth trading up to No. 1, the Jared Goff worth paying $134 million guaranteed, not the Jared Goff of 2019, 2020, and 2021?

Maybe he’s gotten better, more experienced and sharper. Maybe he’s just found the right place, or maybe he’s found a sense of freedom once all expectations, even low-end ones, have fallen away.

Goff experienced the thrill of taking the stage earlier than any other player in his 2016 draft class. He played in a Super Bowl at the end of his third season.

But there may have been no better feeling for him than this, that powerful run and unbridled joy last weekend, when he found Brock Wright for a 51-yard winner to sink the New York Jets and keep the impulse

“It’s a lot of fun,” Goff said.

For a long time, it was assumed that Goff would not be with the Lions next season. They have a small pool of draft picks and going for one of the bigger name college QBs was the preferred option, until recently.

Now, however, it seems like a much more sensible option would be for Detroit to use Goff as one of the anchors aimed at building a team for the future.

With each passing week, however, they look more and more like a team for now.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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