The Los Angeles Rams shocked the NFL world over the weekend when they traded Jared Goff and two first round picks to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Some Rams fans love the trade and believe it makes the Rams a championship contender. Others hate it for the price and don’t believe Stafford is that much better than Goff.
While we more or less know what Rams fans think about the trade, I thought it would be interesting to get a Lions’ fan perspective. Thanks to Kent Lee Platte, you can follow him on Twitter at @mathbomb, for answering some questions and giving Downtown Rams his thoughts on Stafford and the trade.
1. As a Lions fan, what was your reaction to the trade with the Rams and acquiring Jared Goff
There’s two factors to acquiring Jared Goff to consider, and both are negatives for the Lions. The first is the talent of the player. Goff has a below average arm and below average athelticism. He’s not a playmaker, but a game manager who can keep a game plan moving if you have the right pieces in place. The Lions are starting a rebuild, so they have no WRs, no defense to speak of, and only a promising but patchwork offensive line to give him support.
The other half is the contract, which the Rams have an extra 1st round pick simply to get off their hands. This part is an abject disaster of an acquisition for the Lions and a coup for the Rams to successfully unload. It ties him to the Lions for at least 2021 and probably 2022, making it more difficult to maintain a basic roster while they rebuild. From a value perspective, the Lions got significantly worse in 2021 while the Rams got significantly better, though this outlook gets better beyond this year.
2. What are some things that Stafford does well and how much of an upgrade for the Rams you believe he is over Goff?
There isn’t an area Stafford isn’t an upgrade over Goff, so I guess you’re looking for specific areas where it will be most apparent. While Stafford is a better athlete than Goff, he’s not going to wow you with his feet. He can scramble when needed and is smart enough to know when he can be successful in doing so.
The biggest area of difference is in arm strength. While that certainly means Stafford can make better deep throws (also an area he excels at), it’s even more apparent on intermediate throws in tight windows. We called them “Stafford Windows”, passes that go to a perfect, tiny location that requires not only pinpoint accuracy to achieve but also an incredible arm to get the velocity to make it. He doesn’t have the arm strength of Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, but even at his age Stafford is only barely behind that.
3. Stafford has never won a playoff game. Why is that?
The playoff game thing is more due to Lions dysfunction than Stafford, who is one of the league leaders in 4th quarter comebacks since being drafted. The Lions have failed repeatedly to put a strong supporting staff with Matthew Stafford.
Some will immediately point to his receiving corps, as he had Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Kenny Golladay at different times, but in his decade in Detroit he has never had a top half of the league run game. Only once did he have a defense that wasn’t bottom tier. Whereas Goff, in my opinion, held back a talented Rams roster by being a game manager, Stafford propped up multiple poor coaching staffs and weak rosters, sometimes on both sides of the ball, for years.
4. Do you believe that the Rams can win a championship with Stafford?
Winning a championship is hard. If the Rams could get to and win playoff games with Goff, they should expect to do the same and more with Stafford.
5. Is Matthew Stafford a great player, or was he a great player on a bad team?
Matthew Stafford is a great player period. Full stop. Despite having to weather multiple front office changes, constant offensive scheme changes, different head coaches, a patchwork and often just bad offensive line, and no defense to bail him out, he excelled in Detroit and is their all time leading passer in every category.
He was a great player who happened to play on a bad team more than he was a great player on a bad team, using the context you’re implying. Stafford will produce statistically no matter what team he’s on, but what you’re looking for is wins. As much as it may seem like it, Stafford was a winner in Detroit.
This team would never have made the playoffs in the years they did if Stafford wasn’t at the helm. Years like this one where they are picking in the top ten would have instead been in contention for the top pick in the draft if Stafford weren’t the QB. Football is a team sport, and Matthew Stafford pushed this team to win every single time he was on the field. They simply made it harder on him every week. If the Rams don’t let him down, he won’t let them down.