GAME OF THROWERS: MATTHEW STAFFORD AND JARED GOFF
All the hype surrounding Super Bowl week didn’t get the chance to start early thanks to the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions completing what, to this point, is the biggest trade of the 2021 offseason.
Of course, the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson could change that in a hurry, but, as of this writing, all is quiet on that front.
But it’s interesting to mention Watson here, because, as I brought up in our first installment of GOT, the Rams were one of the most realistic destinations for the disgruntled Texans QB specifically because they could offer another first round signal-caller in return.
It turns out that was one of the very reasons LA was able to pull off trading for Matthew Stafford as they tossed in Jared Goff, a third round pick in 2021 and 2022 and 2023 first rounders. Detroit got to move a super talented QB that didn’t want to play for them and has, in his place, a starter who is second only to Tom Brady since 2017 in quarterback victories.
So now, a little over a week later and without the distraction of the biggest game in the biggest sport on the planet, we can finally dive deep into the Stafford-Goff trade and figure out the actual parameters to the question everyone is asking. Specifically…
WHO WON THE TRADE?
As of this minute on Feb. 9/10, 2021, we don’t know that. Here’s what I think we do know and no one seems to be disputing it; the Rams got the better quarterback out of the deal.
Whether you think Stafford is an overrated guy who pads his stats in meaningless games or a guy that’s been single-handedly carryied a moribund franchise on his back for more than a decade, no one (outside of maybe Jared Goff and his family) is disputing that Stafford is better than Goff.
The second fact should also be obvious; the Lions didn’t exactly get stuck with Los Angeles’ trash here. Goff, as mentioned before, has won a lot in this league. He got the Rams to a Super Bowl and, I think, had two of his best performances of the season in the 2020-21 playoffs with a broken thumb. Goff is an NFL starter. Detroit opened the day two Saturday’s ago with the second best QB in the NFC North and closed it with the second best QB in the NFC North.
So everybody won, right? We can’t say that yet. Here’s what everyone winning looks like. The Rams win 13-14 games in 2021-22 and win the Super Bowl with Stafford. The Lions win 9-11 games and make the playoffs with Goff. If that happens, everybody’s happy. Detroit gets to finally field a consistent winner with a new coaching staff in which he can grow and has some extra pick capital in which to continue building its team. LA gets a Vince Lombardi Trophy which is the reason you even have a team.
How about if no one wins? That looks like the Rams winning 10-11 games and coming in as a Wild Card and not making it past the Divisional Round (which is what happened this season with Goff). The Lions go 6-10 and Goff turns the ball over 20-plus times (like he did this year).
And you can flip those outcomes too. If both the Rams and Lions are Wild Card teams, then Detroit absolutely won the trade. If LA wins the Super Bowl and the Lions are picking in the Top 10 again, then they can’t feel great about the trade and their extra No. 32 overall pick.
But there’s another question hanging out there…
IS IT SUPER BOWL OR BUST FOR THE RAMS NOW?
Honestly, no. It would be disappointing to be sure, but it wouldn’t mean the trade was a mistake. If Los Angeles puts together three or four 12-plus win seasons, multiple NFC title runs, but can’t get over the championship hump (I call it pulling an Aaron Rodgers), you can’t fault the trade. Because Goff wasn’t getting them there and that much was obvious. He’d topped out what he could do in McVay’s offense and, because of that, the playcalling and field shrunk considerably. You have to remember, McVay didn’t pick Goff. He inherited him.
Stafford is better. Again, that is not in dispute. So it would suck to get some Rodgers-y NFC title flame outs, but you’d take it over floundering with Goff and his contract.
Still, the Super Bowl is absolutely on the table and it should be. Currently, the Rams are ranked fourth in the odds at +1200, behind only the Kansas City Chiefs at +500, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +700 and the Green Bay Packers at +1000.
OK, THEN. WHAT ABOUT GOFF?
I don’t know what Anthony Lynn brings as an offensive coordinator because the guy only had that job half a season in Buffalo before the team fired his boss, Rex Ryan, and installed him as interim head coach.
As a head coach, I know he likes run-heavy attack, but he also isn’t an idiot. They absolutely let Justin Herbet toss it all over the place with the Los Angeles Chargers last year. I do think a heavy emphasis on the running game helps Goff. He’s a good play action QB and his stats bear that out. His best years with the Rams were with a healthy and productive Todd Gurley.
Without a healthy Gurley, he struggled. Is D’Andre Swift Todd Gurley? No. But you know who is a little Todd Gurley? Todd Gurley, who is a free agent and still scored nine rushing touchdowns last season with the Atlanta Falcons and averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Create a two-headed backfield with your former Bulldogs Swift and Gurley, use Gurley in the passing game (which Goff LOVED to do in LA), and I think they could absolutely shock some people, win some games and compete for a Wild Card spot.