Could the Lions QB be a star in 2021?
By: Ladarius Brown
In an NFL offseason full of storylines, one of the bigger ones was that of the trade between the Rams and Lions. The Lions moved on from arguably the best quarterback in franchise history in Matthew Stafford in exchange for Jared Goff. Both quarterbacks needed a change of scenery for varying reasons. For Stafford, it is about the chance to play for a Super Bowl contender. In the case of Jared Goff, it is about trying to start anew someplace else. Now that Goff is in the Motor City, what are the floor and his ceiling? Let us start with his floor.
Floor: Jared Goff in 2016/Carson Wentz
The Rams made the quarterback out of the University of California the number one overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He started seven games that year, losing all seven. Goff threw for 1,089 yards with a 54.6% completion percentage and five touchdowns to seven interceptions. A large part of his shortcomings in his rookie year fell upon the offense around him. In 2016, the Rams had the worst offense in the NFL. Also, the fact that Jeff Fisher was his head coach for the preponderance of that year did not exactly help matters either.
In that same 2016 NFL Draft, another signal-caller was taken after Goff by the Eagles in Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Wentz had a better rookie campaign than Goff based on passing yards and completion percentage. Wentz started all 16 games, throwing for 3,782 yards with a 62.4% completion percentage and 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in 2016.
Even with his less than stellar rookie year, Goff’s career is comparable to Wentz’s based on the numbers. Having Wentz as the floor for Goff does not mean I think Wentz is terrible. The Wentz comparison for Goff is that Wentz can only get better, given his new surroundings. Goff is in the same situation.
Ceiling: 2017-2018 Goff/Matt Ryan
Given Goff’s floor, I love his ceiling because the Goff we saw in 2017 & 2018 were two of the best years of his six-year career. Combined in those two years, Goff had 8,492 passing yards (fifth-most), 60 touchdowns (tied for fourth), and averaged 273.9 passing yards a game (sixth-most). Also, he was tied with some quarterbacks named Drew Brees and Tom Brady for the most wins at 24 in 2017 & 2018. My point, this was peak Jared Goff, and it was amazing. He was also was the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl 2018.
With this celling comes with a disclaimer since his production picked up once Sean McVay came to Los Angeles. I am banking on that on the high end, Goff can produce similar numbers for the Lions as he did for the Rams in those two years consistently. The disclaimer comes in is if he can without Sean McVay on the sidelines. I may not be sold on head coach Dan Campbell, but I am on the offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
Lynn, a former offensive coordinator with the Bills and head coach of the Chargers, brings 20 years of coaching experience. In his four years as Chargers head coach, they were in the top 10 all four years. It helped to have quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert, but it does not take away from Lynn’s coaching ability.
As we travel back to college, Goff’s NFL comparison was Matt Ryan, and it turned out to be spot-on as both players are very accurate passers and excel in the pocket. Also, both Goff and Ryan are over 6’4” and have been to a Super Bowl, both on the losing end, and both came into the league under defensive head coaches. Looking at Ryan’s career, he was the league MVP in 2016, Goff’s rookie year. Ryan is still playing at a high-level entering year 14 and Goff could be the next Ryan. If Goff can take advantage of his new opportunity in Detroit, his career will bounce back.