The Los Angeles Rams thought they had drafted their franchise quarterback when they selected Jared Goff first overall in 2016. After making a trade with the Tennessee Titans to move up to the top spot, the Rams, who had just moved back to LA, took the California Golden Bear QB ahead of Carson Wentz.
Now, four seasons later, Los Angeles has stunningly cut bait, trading Goff to Detroit for veteran Matthew Stafford.
This was not, and should not be a serious head-scratcher. Goff had clearly flatlined in LA as the up and down performances finally caught up to the quarterback only a few seasons removed from a Super Bowl. Stafford, who has not been particularly stellar with the Lions, finally gets an opportunity to work with head coach Sean McVay, who has proven to be an offensive guru.
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At first blush, the clear winner is Stafford and the Rams. While a change of scenery could help both Goff and Stafford, it is Stafford who gets a fresh start in an NFL city that is winning. As for Goff, the move to the Motor City could prove a big step back in a conference that is more mediocre as compared to the NFC West.
For both quarterbacks, the obvious is that one is moving up, and one is not. Detroit is needing a serious reboot; their defense ranks last, and Goff now has to face Aaron Rodgers twice a season. The Lions, who looked poised to select a quarterback with the seventh pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, may look elsewhere on their depth chart. If they do select a QB, Goff may simply be a guy marking time before moving on to another team.
Stafford will love the situation in Los Angeles. The NFC West is up for grabs as Seattle continues to trend back to the pack. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers look to be reevaluating their quarterback position. In Arizona, Kyler Murray is proving to be exciting to watch but hasn’t yet broken through. For Stafford, who is 33 years old, this is the kind of “turn-key” opportunity a veteran quarterback could prosper in.
LA State Of Mind
So, what happened in Los Angeles? If you are Jared Goff, you’re wondering the same thing. From a Super Bowl and Pro Bowl to now being traded to the Lions; this is a wake-up call. Goff has to find some consistency, and he needs to find it in 2021. He won’t have the benefit of time to figure it out. The California kid is now in the NFL doldrums of a city that is best known for playing on Thanksgiving Day.
As for Stafford, he is also under the gun. If he can’t generate wins and playoff appearances with McVay, the rap that he can’t win will only be bolstered. Stafford is getting a second NFL life, and that just doesn’t happen very often. He will have offensive weapons around him, and a top-ranked defense to give him plenty of chances to generate victories. More simply put, losing won’t be an option.
The NFL offseason has shown up a few months early. Fans can now debate before the Super Bowl even determines a champion. For Matthew Stafford, he’s got to feel he got an early-season victory. For Jared Goff, not so much.