The biggest differences between Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff are the quarterback's height and size
Since the day Brad Holmes sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles for three draft picks, including two first-rounders, and Jared Goff, the Lions-Rams game has been dipped in red ink since the date.
That game is now over, and it could not have come at a better time for Goff.
Goff embraced the opportunity for a fresh start in Detroit, to show Sean McVay what he could accomplish with scouting staff that believed in him. Hes lost six consecutive games under center and is coming off his worst performance in an awful year. He had minus-3 passing yards in the first quarter against Cincinnati and had totaled 202 yards on 42 attempts -- more than half of which came on two series against a prevent defense in this blowout defeat.
Stafford, on the other hand, just completed four more touchdown passes and ranks in the top five of every major passing statistic during a 5-1 start in footballs toughest division.
This week was always going to be all about Stafford and Goff, and the mailbag begins there. Thanks to all who asked questions. Future questions can be tweeted to kmeinke or emailed email@example.com.
With that, lets get started.
QUALITY Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff have been covered in your posts. Id like to know what you think are the biggest differences between them. Goff has been awful and I wanted to give him a chance, but hes been far worse than I anticipated -- Mikkelsen
A: It was bad for Goff his last two seasons in Los Angeles, then he was shipped to a worse team that stripped its offense of every starting receiver and replaced them with worse players. Not exactly a recipe for success, and voila, they are wasting their time.
Goffs completions are only 3.7 yards through the air, which ranks him as the league's lowest quarterback. (Stafford is sixth.) In yards per attempt, hes the third-highest. (Stafford is second.) Hes the fourth-to-last in QBR. (Stafford is first.) He is ranked 25th in the DVOA. (Stafford is third.) We could do this all day, but you get the picture. And the outcome is that the Rams now lead the league in yards per passing play and are second in overall yards, while the Lions are now 29th in yard per pass play as well as yards each play.
You can probably guess which team is 5-1 and which is, well, not.
Well start here because Jared Goff hasnt the arm strength of Matthew Stafford. When youre comparing what the Lions had in that position to what they have now, you're starting with one hand behind your back with Goff under center. But I dont think arm talent is the biggest problem. You know, Goff wasnt the No. 1 overall pick by accident. He has a large arm and looks like it when everything goes well.
To me, the biggest difference between Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff's is what happens when matches go off schedule. Which, in the NFL, happens a lot. Stafford could process the entire field and make a difference in his later years in Detroit, particularly in those days. And it has continued in Los Angeles.
Theres always a timing, if you will, that you want to see reflected, Rams coach Sean McVay said recently. Thats not how the game is played today. Its an imperfect game. And if you can have those situations emerge in a manner thats reflective of, All right, when were on time, let it come to life. Aber I also think that one of the beauties of a player like Matthew and some of these other quarterbacks is that youre distributing the field in A-G, thats reflective of, OK, if the rush disperses that makes you get flushed, is the yardage still distributed and can he activate all parts of it?
Staffords approach is straightforward because, even if Im wrong, he still has a chance of correcting it. And thats what youre looking for. If its in the timing and rhythm, let s be as automatic as possible. But I think the guys that really separate themselves are the ones that, when things go a little bit off-plan, you have the ability to make it right.
Goff, to my eyes, isn't one of those guys. Weve seen it again in the first six weeks of the season, and training camp before that. Goff can hit when his first read is over. Goff has trouble processing the field when a play goes down. His struggles on fourth down are a perfect example.
Goff completed just 2 of 9 passes on those critical downs, which is a total abomination. But thats not all on the offensive playcalling. On three of those seven misfires, Goff threw to a contested player (or, against Cincinnati, no player at all), while not even looking at shady players in another part of the field. Quintez Cephus attempted a contested pass in Green Bay, but he didnt see DAndre Swift wide open over the middle. In Chicago, he didnt see Cephus wide open over the middle and threw to Amon-Ra St. Brown instead. On Sunday, he didnt see Swift all alone on fourth-and-4, but instead spun to the left and immediately into the pass rush. Penei Sewell had to hold, and Goff saw the hold and his brain stopped working. He thought Detroit had a free play, and threw away the football. Of course, Cincinnati accepted the penalty and took control at the spot.
Thats a really bad thing. Is it rock bottom? Im sure well find out.
Weve known which quarterback was better than the other for a long time. Stafford has unlocked dimensions of Sean McVays offense that were not possible with Goff, while Detroit is bottoming out. Dan Campbell says its difficult to assess Goff properly because of all the uncertainties surrounding him, but I disagree. If Matthew Stafford couldnt win in Detroit, then I think itd be foolish to try and make it work long term with a man who is demonstrably worse.
Q The Lions are terrible. And for a lot of reasons. I believe that QB should bear a large portion of the blame by approving the decision. But, for me, the one thing that puzzles me is all the criticism of how unsatisfactory our receiver group is. Inexperienced? Yes. Any household names? No. Does that make them worse? How can anyone possibly grade Goff for being too timid to even look beyond 5 yards, much less throw that far? Good or bad? Have you seen enough tape to tell if or not they are actually opening and Goff is blind to it, or sift through them all and he has to check down every time? -- Michael Morris
A: As far as the Lions receivers go, theyre really bad. Kalif Raymond (a slot receiver who is playing out of position on the outside), Amon-Ra St. Brown (an interior slot player), and T.J. Hockenson (unique pass-catchers who rank inside the top 75 in separation) are the only pass catchers who make the cut in this group, despite being outside of the Top 75. Thats it. And slot receivers and tight ends are rarely vertical threats.
Raymond has had a stellar season, even though he is only 5-foot-8. The only business he has running downfield routes on the outside is a total lack of other options, which, hey presto, is exactly where the Lions are. Trinity Benson (76th) is the teams top outside man in terms of separation, who didn't even dress last week because hed been so bad.
The predictability of the problem is whats so troubling. When the closest thing anyone in your receiver corps has to a track record is one 1,000-yard season five years ago, followed by some very average seasons as WR2-3 before not playing at all last year due to injuries, youre not doing enough to help your quarterback. Tyrell Williams is still missing two catches for 14 yards because of a brain injury in Week 7.
You cant predict injuries, and thats a difficult break. But this is the NFL, and everyone has injuries, so its only revealing how little Detroit did to support Jared Goff last offseason. Which is how you end up with a slot receiver (Raymond) and special teams ace (KhaDarel Hodge), with no 15-catch seasons as your starting outside receivers against Cincinnati.
Q: I know the lions are in a rebuilding stage since 1957 and they need 'a QB' now, but there are no rookies worthy of first rd consideration. Are there any possible free agent QBs available this off season that are worth looking for? -- Robert Westerhouse
A: This was always the case with passing on guys like Justin Fields (whom I mocked to Detroit) and Mac Jones. I get the Lions approach -- they wanted to expand the roster to provide better support for the quarterback they eventually picked to see this thing through -- but youre also betting on when you'll be back on the clock and which quarterbacks will even be available. And now, a once-promising class of quarterback prospects is almost always underwhelming in the college game. Even with the first overall pick, Im not sure if theres a quarterback worth taking.
I appreciate your thinking outside of the box about the issue, but theres a reason why barely anyone successfully resolves their quarterback problems through free agency, other than if it s Tom Brady. Which, hey, might happen next year with a guy like Aaron Rodgers. But, most of the time, teams dont let good quarterbacks go, which is why you end up with a free-agent quarterback class that includes guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Taysom Hill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, Tyrod Taylor, Jameis Winston, Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, Mitchell Trubisky, and you get the point.
There may be minor updates, but none of those guys are the long-term answer for a rebuild like this. And lets not forget that the Lions already paid Goff for 2022 when they restructured his contract after the trade. They converted $20 million of Goffs $25.65 million base salary for this season into a signing bonus, which freed up $15 million in immediate cap space but left them with 'a cap hit of $15 millions if they want to move on from GOff after the season.
Jared Goff will likely be on the team next year, at a cap hit of $31.15 million, making it extremely difficult to spend more money at the quarterback position. Any meaningful, long-term addition would have to be made in the draft, as it does for most teams at that position -- but that brings us back to the initial problem, which appears to have been a weak quarterback class.
Quite a nice spot to be. Makes me wonder if that played a factor in the 49ers' decision to pay extra for Trey Lance. Because now they have their quarterback, while Detroit took a pass and now finds itself in tense situations at the games most crucial position.
Q It seems like the Rams trade was one sided and the addition of Goff and/or reorganization of him killed the rebuilding before it even began. How are those 2 late 1sts going to turn things around? -- @szn_lions
A: Lets get one thing straight. Matthew Stafford is a good quarterback, and Jared Goff hasnt been able to play quarterback for ten years. This was always apparent, which is why the Rams traded Goff and three draft picks for Stafford. Nobody gives away their quarterback and three picks -- including two first-rounders! -- to acquire a quarterback who is worse. Period.
So the Lions' quarterback talent has deteriorated in the short term, but I still like the trade for them because of those draft picks. Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, T.J. Hockenson, and Penei Sewell are all playing well (injuries notwithstanding), and the Lions will get two more players like that next year, then two additional the year after that. They should be better in 2022, and they should also be a lot better by 2023. You know, just think about what this team might look like with four more Ragnows or Sewells/Hockensons on the roster?
Of course, none of that matters without a solution at the quarterback position, which, well, yes.
QUALITY As a sports media professional and as close to the issue as possible, what are your thoughts on the National Medias treatment of almost everything Dan Campbell says or does? -- @md_ratliff -- The Lions fans are going through it as is, don't want our HC trashed for being...honest. -- --
A: I assume that this is in reference to Cris Carter. For those who missed it (I envy you), the Hall of Fame receiver said, amongst other stupid things: You cant go to a press conference and just speak off the cuff. No, that is not a professional head coach. Now youve got me confused as a player. Make up your mind. Last week, you were crying? And this time, youre critical of the franchise's most valuable player? Jared Goff needs a hug right now, and he needs it from dozens of people around the NFL, they may not admit it, but if s/he's feeling the urge, i'll tell you.
When was the last coach weve ever seen sit at that podium and criticize a player? Its been a long time, because the coach of all 32 teams is telling them, Hey, Kay, Ill never talk about you to the media. Ill never say anything that I didnt go over with you. That right there, thats an amateur coach not supporting his quarterback and not backing his team, because he did something that youre never supposed to do.
So many terrible takes are packed into such a small space. Cris, Im impressed. Just a couple of quick points.
1) Its OK to cry one week and be critical the next. There are no guidelines for when coaches are allowed to display different types of emotions.
Dan Campbell criticised Jared Goff. Jared Goff was also quoted as saying that he never considered benching the quarterback, that the QB still has his support, and that problems in the passing game have a lot to do with other players missing assignments around Jare GOff, which goes far beyond Jae G Off. He even cut off a reporter at one point -- I believe for the first time ever -- to insist that Detroits scoring problems in the opening half arent centered on Goff.
Campbell clarified, It has nothing to do with Jared. Thats not true, E. Thatd be the case. But what Im saying is, I dont blame Jared Goff at all. This is a collective. This is collectively offensive.
Dan Campbell had the temerity to suggest that Jared Goff, like all of the other candidates, could be improved after answering six questions about him and receiving six responses of varying support. Heres exactly what he said: I will say this: I feel like a man who needs to step up more than i have. And I think he needs to assist us, as well as everyone else. I think hes going to need to put a little bit of weight on his shoulders and itll be time to step up, make some throws, and do some things. However, he needs help. He needs help.
4) If you cant publicly state that one of the leagues worst quarterbacks, who is playing for the only winless team in the division, needs to do a little bit more just like everybody else -- and only doing so after defending him in six different ways -- why even hold press conferences?
What business does that quarterback have of being in the NFL at all if he is so fragile that a coach tells him 'he needs to put fewer on his shoulders for the worst team in this damn league, along with everyone else'
Q Thibodeaux is an intriguing QB and the QA class isnt great, and hes the #1 pick. Is there a scenario where Detroit doesnt pick qBs in the first round this year? -- @fearlessfairles
A: Yes. At this moment, thats where this thing is headed. Because the position is so important and teams are searching for reliable quarterbacks, Quarterbacks always have a way of rising up the board as the draft process unfolds. But is that 1:1? I just dont see it this year. The Lions obviously need a quarterback, but you cant miss one either. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a well-rounded talent, and if youve been living under numbness or without internet or whatever, it looks like hes quite good.
Q: I can recall several previous rebuilds by other teams (more specifically, the Browns from some years back) where the rebuild was too slow and/or backward because of the different and limited shelf lives of different positions. Is that the correct order when you tell yourself that great RBs last 3-5 years, OL maybe 5-7 best case, etc. and you decide to build out from the trenches? -- @grantbonin -- How long should a rebuild take so you're not getting talent at the rate youre losing it or it's expiring?
A: I hear you I think, but I come to the opposite conclusion. Wouldnt it make more sense to begin at positions with the longest shelf life of offensive linemen, then finish the rebuild at those positions that have the shorter shelf lives? So that, ideally, theyre all coming together at once?
There are so many other variables to consider as well. Teams like to work through the trenches because of the fact that the offensive linemen are the backbone of their offense. Good ones make everyone else better, while bad ones worsen everyone's situation and could see them killed. If your quarterback is on his hindparts, it wont matter if you have great receivers.
Q How is your cat doing? -- @nicosuave6 Do you think he would ever throw the ball out of bounds on 4th down?
A: Kilgore Trout was actually killed in April due to kidney failure. I buried him at the abandoned zoo on Belle Isle. Im pretty sure thats illegal, so let's just keep that to ourselves.
I now live with my buddys cat. I like him more than 99 percent of humans, and he would be much more likely to take a nap on the football than throw it away on fourth down, which seems like sturdier use of his time.
Q: Whats the status of Tyrell Williams? I know that all head injuries are different, but Daniel Jones almost collapses and plays 7 days later. Are we close to a Javid Best scenario? -- @DetLionsFan24
A: Ive seen guys bounce back in a matter of days. Rashean Mathis has also had a shot to the head, complete all his concussion protocols, and then fly to Europe with the team before symptoms began to manifest. And he never played another down in the NFL again.
In other words, I have no idea. He may be back this week, he may never be, it may lie somewhere in the middle. When it comes to the brain, you just have to make sure that the guy takes care of himself and gets things done.
Q Kyle, How are you? -- @Handsome_Cheese What are your tips, tricks, and what have you learned to navigate this challenging season?
A: As long as the checks are cashing and the press box is stocked with free food, I cant complain.
Is it time to cover 10 straight losses? Yes. Does watching terrible football for four years at a time seem exhausting? Absolutely not. Does sitting this job for nine years without a playoff win become redundant? Youre a Lions fan, and you already know the answer better than I do.
But the job is fantastic, win or lose, and Ive never taken it for granted for a day in my life. I travel the country writing about the greatest athletes in the world's greatest sport. And they actually pay me to do it. Its been a long time since Ive played football, but itll never cease to amaze me how fortunate I am to have this life.