My camp thoughts after going to a couple practices

Every year I try to attend at least two practices and then share my thoughts… I’m probably going to attend 3 this year but I wanted to share what I have seen so far and what my thoughts are. Keep in mind I’m forming these opinions based off just two practices. So things could change with more practice time.

I’ll start with practice feel and tempo.

Practices are much more laid back. The physicality we saw under MP is gone…. The practices are much more soft similar to how Caldwell ran camp. For example they ran a ton of punt practices today. In those practices the players explode off the ball, make initial contact and then stop. The punter receives the snapped ball and acts like he’s going to punt it but doesn’t. Nearly every snap was done like this. I’m talking 20+ snaps like this. Personally I’m not sure what they gain from practicing like this. Maybe their worried about the exchange but why have the complete unit out there to just go through the motions? They did a lot of snaps like this. It seems like a waste of practice time to me. Under MP they would have practiced like it was game time and the intensity was clearly higher under MP.

One thing they did that I liked was the 1st team took one end of the field why the second and 3rd team took the other. They executed plays on each end simultaneously. This seemed smart to me because it means everyone is getting more snaps. Instead of the 2nd team sitting on the sidelines watching the first team, both are getting near equal snap time doing it this way. Smart.

Roger Goodell was present at the practice today and he made himself available to fans who wanted an autograph and picture. He was swarmed by fans much to my surprise. I was invited to sit on a conference call with him and chosen Lions fans on Monday but I couldn’t take that offer…That should be interesting to hear about on Monday.

Let’s talk QB’s and the offense.

Watching the offense has been a priority for me. I’m concentrating on WR’s, RB’s and QB’s mainly to try to get a feel for Goff and the offense as a whole.

I think it’s obvious Goff is our starter, Boyle is our #2 and Blough the #3. However the drop off from Goff to Boyle is significant. All this talk about how good Boyle is from GB fans is a joke. This guy is clearly a backup who has a lot to work on.

Boyle - Boyle and Blough split time with the second team but Boyle got the majority of the snaps. He’s clearly not as accurate as Goff. Often his throws were slightly off the mark forcing WR’s to adjust. His WR’s had a lot more drops as well and I think some of the blame fell on him. My biggest concern with him is how often he went to his first read. In fact I only saw him go to his second a few times. He often stared at his primary target and if it wasn’t there he would force the ball to his secondary target. Often forcing the ball into tight coverage for an incomplete pass. Needless to say I wasn’t that impressed with him. I do think he has potential and I think he moves well in the pocket but he clearly has a lot to work on.

Goff - I was impressed… I think fans and the media are really underrating him. There’s a very notable difference between Goff and Stafford and I’d like to discuss some of them.

Goff sees the field better than Stafford does. He’s does a better job scanning through his progressions before delivering an extremely accurate pass. Rarely did a WR have to adjust to one of his passes. Most were perfectly thrown, on the mark and hit the WR in stride.

One thing I noticed is that Goff rarely went to his first read. He often went through all his progressions and back. Meaning he scanned the field from right to left and back to right before making a throw. Usually taking the high percentage throw underneath. Never taking the open WR down field. His decision making is better than Stafford’s. He’s not going to force throws or take chances.

His accuracy is notable and he made one super nice throw on a crossing route to Amon-Ra for a TD. The small window he thread it through was impressive.

I want to say this again - The one thing that was obvious was his accuracy and how the WR’s never once had to adjust to the pass. The ball was always placed where it should be. But …… it’s obvious he plays it safer than Stafford does. He’s not a gun slinger like Matt. He clearly doesn’t want to take shots down field when there’s an open WR underneath. He’s not an aggressive passer. He plays things safe and in script.

After two full practices I’ve watched Goff pass the ball more than 30 yards just 4 times. There’s a lot of dink and dunk 5-8 yard passes. It appears his accuracy starts to tally off after 20 yards. Of the 4 passes he went deep on, he missed the mark twice for an incompletion, and the one he did complete wasn’t thrown very well. There’s definitely something to the reports of him not wanting to go deep. He had open WR’s 25-30 yards down field but took the underneath pass instead. Stafford is far more accurate than Goff when throwing 20+ yards. Stafford goes off script more and takes more chances. Stafford is a far more aggressive passer.

However the 3rd deep pass that Goff went deep on. Kennedy ran a 40 yard pass go route. Goff slightly over threw the pass but it’s was a beautiful pass and it appeared Kennedy got his feet tangled up. Had that not happened I think that it would have been a TD.

Almost every snap Goff took he was in the shot gun. He took very few snaps under center. It appears we’re going to be a heavy shotgun based offense.

To summarize- Stafford is a far more grittier player in practice. He’s more aggressive and more accurate on his deep routes. Goff is more accurate on the short to intermediate stuff and he plays it safer. Goff is definitely more of a game manger than Stafford.

All in all I thought Goff looked good. I think he’s better than people think but the deep pass issue is a legitimate concern.

RB’s, WR’s, TE’s and running back sets.

Much to my surprise the Lions ran a bunch of two back sets in a split back formation. Often times subbing in a WR for a RB and having that WR run a route. Clearly this is a formation they’re practicing a lot.

On two particular plays the Lions ran a split back set with Williams on one side and Amon on the other side. Amon ran a mid depth post type of route. Where he was able to get 20 yards downfield and he looked quick getting out there. He was wide open but Goff took an underneath rout to Hock for an easy completion but it appeared Brown could have took it to the house had Goff went to him. They also ran a split back set with Jamar Jefferson and Amon. Jefferson made a nice block and Amon ran a dig route to the opposite side that he had prior. Goff hit him in stride for a nice gain. With all the WR’s out Goff went towards Brown a lot today and Brown looked good. I mean real good. He just might be our best receiving option besides Hock.

Hockenson was a big part of the playbook and he looked great. Picking up where he left off from last year. He’s going to have a monster year and it’s obvious he’s our top receiving option.

J. Williams - Took most of the snaps with first team. I knew he was good but he had more wiggle than I thought he had. He looked like he’s going to be a solid player for us.

Jermar Jefferson - Made a couple nice blocks in pass pro. This was clearly something they were working on with him and he rose to the challenge. He showed good vision and looked good running the ball. I think he’s our RB3.

Godwin Igwebuike - was on return duty and he returned one the distance and looked good doing it. He’s quick and has some nice sudden cuts. However as a running back I wasn’t that impressed. He didn’t make quick enough decisions and seemed slow getting to the hole. He was stuffed for a loss as a result. He seemed a tad indecisive at RB. I think his only chance of making the team is as a return guy but I do think he looks good at returner.

Khalid Raymond also made a return that went the distance. He’s fast. He’s got some nice moves and seems to have good vision as well. As a returner I thought Idwebuike looked slightly better to be honest. This is a close matchup and one won’t make the roster. I don’t think Raymond is a lock.

Victor Bolden also returned one the distance. He made a few nice cuts and got behind the defense and was gone. I actually think Bolden has a possibility to beat out these other two. He’s seems more rounded as a player.

Needless to say the return guys burned our ST unit 3 times. A lot to work on there.

Speaking of ST let’s talk Kickers.

Kickers - Both of our kickers suck. I think we downgraded at kicker and it’s obvious our kicking game won’t be winning us many games. Neither of these guys can hit a kick past 40 yards. Disappointing!

I didn’t spend a lot of time watching the defense or the OL because I felt with the way we were approaching practice that it was difficult to evaluate them. However I want to point out two players

Ifeatu Melifonwu - Made a couple really nice pass break ups. He looks like he will likely be a starting a slot corner for us. He took a ton of snaps in the slot and was a pleasant surprise. I know we spend a 3rd on this guy but we might have a real hit on our hands. So far he’s looked impressive to me.

Jeff Okudah - He looks faster than last year to me but I think he’s been slightly out played by a 3rd round rookie. That maybe because Okudah has been getting paired up against Brown a lot and Brown has been impressive. However Okudah has done a good job keeping up with him. He’s looked quicker and more fluid than last year. He doesn’t look nearly as lost. Hoping it finally clicks for this kid.

Obviously I’ve only seen two live practices so far and everyone’s learning a new playbook. So it wouldn’t shock me if things changed drastically but I tend to think the feel I get at camp flows accurately into the season. So I think there’s something to everything I’ve stated. I’m currently planning to go to a VIP practice event on Wednesday and if I go I’ll post my thoughts after my 3rd camp.


You confirmed what a few of the beat writers noticed: That Jermar is showing promise in pass blocking, which is his ticket to playing time this season. It always seemed to me that he could pick it up quickly because his running vision should translate well to identifying which rusher to block amid the chaos. Of course he’ll be groomed for special team roles this year, but even if he doesn’t quite cut it there, I’d think his offensive skills are too valuable. If Swift or Williams are out for a couple of games, we’ll have a viable replacement.

This is the year we finally have a real deal running game!!


Nice read air, thanks for sharing.

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Good stuff!

I think that Goff does need to have his feet set to throw very deep. He tends to have more of a rainbow arc that is harder to be accurate with than the more straight lines that Stafford can throw.

Goff used to be more aggressive earlier in his career. This is where I wonder if McVay coached it out of him. McVay is such a controlling stickler that every time a play fails (which is more often on deeper passes), I feel like he made Goff sit through 2 hours of film review on that play as punishment.

I watched the Rams Cowboy practice today with Stafford and he definitely picks a target and slings it even if he’s not open. There were a lot of pass break ups against him, but also some very nice deep throws.

I’m starting to see that Goff is more likely to make high percentage plays that move the sticks and Stafford is more of a home run hitter that can be great in certain series but also likely creates 3 and outs.

If this is true, Goff has a better chance to have a consistently moving offense which will put the Lions in more chances to win games, but he is less likely to have a huge comeback down 13 with 6 minutes left in the 4th.


With the game on the line and down by a score I’ll take Stafford over Goff.

I firmly believe Stafford is the better player overall. I love his aggressive nature and ability to sling a pass anywhere on the field.

Goff is more game manager than gun slinger from what I can see so far. Maybe with more practice and time in the offense we will see a more aggressive Goff but …… he’s taking the easy passes way too often. This is the only major concern I have with him.

However I think Goff has the potential to be a really solid QB. He sees the field well, is accurate and delivers a very catchable ball. If he can be good enough to convert on 3rd downs than I think he can be a solid chain mover.

Also …. I think Goff’s style is best suited having WR’s who are crafty after the catch as opposed to speedsters who can stretch the field. Mainly because Goff looks great when tossing the ball in 20 yards or less.

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Awesome read. Better read than most of these articles on paywall sites to be honest.


This was an awesome read… much appreciated.


I’d like to add a point on the split back sets. We had Amon Brown as one of the split backs.

I have to think he was getting so many reps there today because Swift wasn’t taking any reps. Obviously they are taking it easy with several players. My guess is that Swift will be running those routes mostly on game day.

I have to wonder if we will see Brown line up there in an actual game or if he was just filling in and practicing to be a back-up in that situation? …. My guess is that we will see it in games but it will be mostly Swift taking those snaps.

So that means I expect to see a fair amount of split back sets where Williams and Swift will be in. One will stay home and block while the other will run a route.

I saw some cool stuff being done on offense and I can’t wait to see it in action on game day.


Year after year, your reports from practice far exceed those of people being paid to do it. Thank you!


You know who used to do great training camp reports? Bob Gaunt aka Blackhat24 from the mlive Lions forum.

Wonder whatever happened to him?


Great stuff Air! Appreciate you sharing it with us. I also like what your saying about Goff and Stafford.


Dude thank you for the in depth and informative post!!! Much appreciated!


What if you’re up a couple scores and just need a couple 1st downs to seal the game, would you prefer Goff in that situation? I’m thinking his accuracy and touch on short throws probably gives him the edge. Also, what’d you think of Sewell?


As always, nice write-up Air!

What about Alim and Levi?
The Okwara Brothers?
How did the LB’s group look?
How was our defenses lined up?
How did the Safeties look?
Also, how did Goff’s passes look in the air? The pass that he threaded the needle to Hock the other day, the ball wasn’t a very tight spiral. I’m just wondering if his spirals looked tight or not and if that’s a reason for his not wanting to throw the deeper passes.

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I loooooove the split back looks…been pining for this team to do that more often for years. It can create such a headache for D’s, especially with Hock and even a second TE lined up for an extra wrinkle the opposition has to account for. This O may not be explosive, but it wont have to be if they can execute the system they appear to be running…and Goff sounds like the right kind of QB to steer the ship.


Was kind of thinking maybe they do have sets where they have say Williams and st brown as split backs with Swift in the slot, then do some sort of motion and they switch, or run the play with that look? I’m sure they could get very creative with that!

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Thanks for sharing, Air

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Excellent report! Thanks.

I’ve thought too much about the difference between Goff and Stafford and whether Goff can maintain the success he has had with the Rams. Stafford seems to be head and shoulders a better qb now as he has a bigger arm and has more experience than Goff. Stafford probably can react better to nuances that d-coordinators throw at him since he has seen so much.

One area that Goff has been clearly better than Stafford is sacks. Stafford averages 10 or so more sacks per year than Goff. It will be interesting to see if Goff can continue to be a guy that avoids those type of negative plays in the future. After watching him the last 4 years or so, I’ve always thought that he does do a good job of being smart and throwing the ball away to avoid those plays.

Goff is also excellent at the 17-25 yard throw. Watch the highlights from the GB playoff game where Goff had back to back money throws. He can make those throws in his sleep. Defenses can take that away, but there’s only so much a pretty good defense can take away. Most NFL defenses won’t be able to stop the run, take away a quick passing game, and take away those intermediate throws.

I’m not too worried about the emphasis on the underneath throws yet. Looking over the Chargers stats, Lynn’s offense throws to the back more than most offenses and will force teams to stop those short throws, especially with guys like Swift, Hock, and hopefully Amon Ra being able to gain some YAC. If teams commit to stopping those short throws there should be some holes 20 yards downfield that Goff can exploit.


Watching the change from Fischer to McVay, it seemed like a similar transition. McVay had much shorter/softer practices and rested vets 2 days a week and didn’t play any starters in preseason. I thought the rams would be soft as heck. Turned out they’ve been one of the healthier teams in the last 4 years aside from 2019 OL.

A part of that is the rams have focused on getting cerebral players over speed, strength, intensity players. McVay is good at being relaxed at points but setting a culture of focused intensity at certain times. Note Brockers and Donald predate McVay and brockers seemed to set the intensity for the DL and even defense as a whole. They may miss that this year.

DC wants gritty players and we are seeing that in all the rookies so far. Maybe on game day it’s a different level?

Wondering if you think Campbell and staff as a bunch of former players can strike that right balance of focus in practice and intensity in games?

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Arm strength does not make you a better QB.