The LA Rams are currently one of the best teams in the NFL. But to improve further, they must face a former ally. And the outcome of this one could prove to be disastrous to a player who once suited up in the home team’s locker room at SoFi Stadium.
In Week 7, the Detroit Lions (0-6) travel to pay a visit and match up against the LA Rams (5-1) at SoFi Stadium in what could be termed the “Jared Goff revenge game”. The reason this is getting a lot of national attention is simply the fact that these are the two teams that swapped quarterbacks early in 2021. The Rams sent Goff plus three draft picks (two of which were in the first round) to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford. With the Rams record, and Stafford playing lights out to start the season, so far the trade for Stafford has paid off for the Rams.
In case you need a reminder of the details, the LA Rams acquired Stafford in exchange for two first-round picks (2022 and 2023), a third-round pick (2021), and QB Jared Goff. Considering it will take three drafts for the Lions to finish making the picks that they acquired in said trade, it’s still way too early to analyze the deal.
It may also be smart to give the Rams a few years to see if they can make a run at the Lombardi trophy to judge whether the upgrade at QB was worth the price. But even this early, there are two things that we do know. The LA Rams did want to get better, and so far it appears that they are all across the offense. We also know that the Detroit Lions wanted to rebuild. So far, they are on pace to land the top pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. So, I guess you could say, mission accomplished?
By conducting the trade, the LA Rams signaled that they had given up on Goff. In the same move, the Detroit Lions indicated that they still believed in him as a franchise quarterback.
The Lions passed on a trade offer from the Carolina Panthers that included the eighth pick in the 2021 draft. With this package, they could’ve drafted OT Penei Sewell with their seventh pick, like they eventually did, and then draft a quarterback with the Panthers’ eighth pick. That package also dangled quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the mix. By instead taking the Rams offer, the Lions chose for Goff to be their starter for the 2021 season.
The Rams, just like the Lions, made a trade in order to obtain Goff. In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Rams traded the 15th pick, attached an additional first, two second-rounders, and two third-rounders in order to move up to select the University of California quarterback first overall.
Even though the Lions didn’t surrender draft capital to obtain him as the Rams did, they passed up on other quarterbacks they could’ve taken in the draft. This tryout the Lions decided to give him is a big opportunity cost, especially if Mac Jones or Justin Fields ends up having a good career in the league.
Goff can win. Goff can lose too
In his career, Goff has shown both flashes and flaws. The 2x Pro Bowler has impressive performances and wins on his resume. In 2018, he led the Rams to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl visit. During that season, he had 32 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions, a quarterback rating of 101.1, and a YPA (yards per attempt) of 8.5. These statistics illustrate unique talent that suggests solid potential.
But potential only matters when it is truly realized. Right now, there are questions about whether Goff can turn the corner.
Since 2018, he has regressed in some ways, but he continues to flash the ability to win games as well. In Super Bowl LIII, the Goff offense was held to a mere three points, based on a New England Patriots defense that simply plagiarized a Chicago Bear defensive game plan and amplified its effectiveness. Goff had relied far too heavily upon his head coach to figure out defenses and make the pre-snap adjustments. Rams management failed to give sufficient concern to that vulnerability. After all, not only did the team sign quarterback Jared Goff to a contract extension but did so a year earlier than they had to.
A fascinating component of the NFL is the cut-off between a franchise moving on from a quarterback to draft a new one versus handing out an expensive contract extension. At the forefront of that divide is Jared Goff, who received a four-year deal worth $134 million dollars, with, at the time, the most guaranteed money ($110 million) ever given to a player.
Since landing in Detroit, Goff hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire. In fact, without McVay as his head coach, he’s winless in the NFL, now at 0-13 (0-7 with the Rams pre-McVay). With this stat in mind, coupled with his YPA continuing to decline, are the Lions still confident about Goff as a long-term solution at quarterback? Or could they be thinking of cutting bait early, just like the Rams did?