It has been revealed that the L.A. Rams have told their quarterback Jared Goff to pack his bags for Detroit, as he was traded to the Lions in exchange for veteran QB Matthew Stafford, two 1st Round draft choices in 2022 and 2023, and an additional 3rd Round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. There’s a lot to unravel here, so let’s get started with breaking down why this all transpired and how the Rams just earned a trip back to the Super Bowl in the not-so-distant future.
Jared’s Swan Song
It’s not often you see a team (the L.A. Rams) dish out a quarterback (Jared Goff) who brought them to the Super Bowl just two years ago. However, it’s far from being uncalled for. After the Rams’ incredible performance back in the 2018 season with a 13-3 record, they followed it up with a 9-7 record in 2019, and a 9-6 record in 2020 with Goff as the starter, before missing their Week 17 win due to injury. In that matchup, they managed to win against the Arizona Cardinals to give them a spot in the playoffs and go toe-to-toe with the Seattle Seahawks. the Rams were able to defeat Seattle with Jared Goff as their leader, despite having a broken thumb in his throwing hand after backup quarterback John Wolford left early due to a neck injury. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the celebrations were short-lasting, as they faced the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round and were ultimately routed on a cold and snowy day in the Frozen Tundra. Throughout much of the season, Goff could never find his stride, as he constantly missed wide-open targets and threw head-scratching interceptions often. It’s important to note that since 2019, Jared Goff has been one of the highest-paid players in the NFL with a 4-year x $134 million contract, and he’s also been arguably the most overpaid players in the league. He’s never regained the confidence and prowess that earned him the contract since his crushing loss in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, and his numbers and performance continue to dwindle with each passing year. It was clear that headed into the offseason, the quarterback position was facing uncertainty, as head coach Sean McVay wanted a guy who brings explosive dynamism. That guy is Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
New Sheriff in Town
It didn’t take long for Stafford to get accustomed with his new head coach for the Rams, as shortly after the trade was finalized, he and McVay had a dinner for two. This is something that Stafford needs to soak in, as he’s never had so much to look forward to, given the Detroit Lions have been wasting away his NFL career. He’s always been able to make elite plays, but he’s never had competent teammates to work with. In his 12-year career, all spent with the Detroit Lions, he’s totaled 45,109 passing yards, 62.6 completion percentage, 282 touchdowns, 144 interceptions, and an 89.9 passer rating. In the same amount of time, the Lions have had a positive record in just two of the 12 seasons during his career. Stafford has always been a diamond in the rough in his NFL career and is easily one of the toughest quarterbacks to play the game. The guy could fall down an elevator shaft right before kickoff and would pop back up and play every snap that day. He’s a fierce competitor and loves to win. If he can play well with one of the worst teams in NFL history, imagine what he can do with Sean McVay and the L.A. Rams? They want a quarterback who can throw the ball down the field efficiently and in 2020, Stafford threw 54 passes that were 20+ air yards downfield, averaged 7.7 yards per pass attempt (9th best in the NFL), and averaged 12.0 yards per completion (5th best in the NFL). In comparison, Jared Goff averaged 7.2 yards/attempt (No. 21) and averaged 10.6 yards/completion (No. 21) per pro-football-reference.
One Man is Trash, Another One is Treasure
Last, but not least, there’s an important note to analyze for the two quarterbacks: the difference in play style. Not all quarterbacks are built the same. Matthew Stafford is a playmaker and can throw the ball from any formation at an elite level. Jared Goff on the other hand is a game manager. He plays well when everything is going according to plan, but he’s unable to improvise when an adjustment needs to be made. While game managers can be incredibly talented quarterbacks and lead to winning records, as seen by Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, and Ryan Tannehill of the Tenessee Titans, they’re not irreplaceable. Quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford don’t come along very often – someone with a cannon of an arm who can deliver with precision and accuracy consistently, and has the IQ and poise to win under the spotlight while being able to improvise. It will be shown in the 2021 NFL season, that the Rams were right in selling the farm for Matthew Stafford as Jared Goff will slip into the dark abyss that is the Detroit Lions. While L.A. now does not have a 1st Round draft selection until at least 2024, they’ll be able to make it up when they make another trip to the Super Bowl with Stafford as the head honcho and emerge as a potential MVP candidate in the process. This trade is absolute game-changing for the Rams, and only the future will tell how different Matthew Stafford’s career could’ve been if he were on a good team all along.