While it wasn’t entirely surprising that the Los Angeles Rams moved on from quarterback Jared Goff, it was shocking how quickly the Rams made this trade. One thing is for certain, this transaction was so much more than about swapping QBs.
1. The Rams completely lost faith in Jared Goff
Before I hear, “Duh,” this was more of a suspicion than a confirmed notion. Both head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead made it obvious that the Rams weren’t committing to Goff. At the very least, Goff was going to see some competition, and even invested in Devlin Hodges to join John Wolford and Bryce Perkins.
The truth is that Snead couldn’t say anything until the trade was official. But the writing was on the proverbial wall. And the Rams’ lack of faith stemmed far beyond McVay and Snead’s non-committal comments.
In the four years McVay has been with the Rams, he’s consistently shouldered the blame whenever mistakes were made. Even when it was painfully obvious that McVay was not at fault he would still say that he needs to improve. Now, that’s not to say he wasn’t ever the problem, but that’s another issue entirely.
We witnessed something in 2020 that McVay never really did as a head coach and that was criticizing Goff, or any player for that matter. Goff’s decline came to the point where McVay couldn’t make excuses for him anymore. Nobody can blame him either. Some of Goff’s mistakes left the lot of us scratching our heads.
It’s not that the Rams didn’t try with Goff, in fact, the Rams rearranged the offense to match his skillset after his accuracy diminished. But the final nail in the coffin happened in the playoffs. The Rams were willing to roll with John Wolford, a quarterback that’s supposed to have a reserved role and only played in one NFL game his entire career, rather than what was supposed to be a franchise quarterback in Goff. McVay opted to roll with Wolford instead of Goff against the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round.
Goff didn’t appreciate that, which is understandable. To Goff’s credit, he didn’t do terrible in the playoffs, especially when you factor in his thumb injury. Something is terribly wrong though if your head coach values a backup QB over his starter in a playoff game, banged up or not.
2. The Rams want to win now
When you think of Goff being on the Rams, you want to think back to the 2018 Goff where he was throwing bombs downfield. We didn’t even get a whiff of that Goff in 2020. So obviously Goff wasn’t the answer moving forward.
Whether or not you approve of Snead’s decision making, you can’t deny Snead’s need to win. Snead clearly isn’t perfect. He’s made some questionable decisions, and truthfully, you can make arguments that some of his decisions were justified. The phrase “hindsight is 20/20,” is accurate with some of these decisions because we can criticize his transactions now, but at the time, some of them made sense.
Despite how you may feel about the Goff extension at the time, you have to give kudos to Snead for not sticking with Goff when he sees that it’s not working. Even with the glaring salary cap flashing in the red, Snead is attempting to fix a mistake for the short and long term. That’s the type of thinking that sets teams up for success.
Think about it, there are plenty of teams out there that would have stuck with Goff for the remainder of his contract. That means more seasons of Goff just going through the motions and frustrating coaching and players for the next four years.
I mean, just think back to some points of the Rams’ history and you’ll see why this front office approach is more beneficial than a wait-and-see strategy.
3. High draft picks are meaningless to Les Snead
The conflicted fans that don’t appreciate this trade only see the loss of NFL Draft picks. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NFL Draft and obviously teams are more likely to strike gold with high draft picks. Consider this, the Rams haven’t had a first round pick since Goff. During that time frame, the Rams have had plenty of winning seasons, including a Super Bowl run. High draft picks are great, but that isn’t a guarantee either. Some players are worth the gamble like Jalen Ramsey.
Besides, when you find gems like Snead and the scouting department have in recent years, why do you really need them? Ever wonder why the Rams have so many committed contracts? It’s because the majority of them are “homegrown talents.” Even looking back at the most recent NFL Draft, the Rams found starters in as low as the sixth round (Referring to S Jordan Fuller).
4. Matthew Stafford brings hope for the deep ball
Goff struggled a lot in 2020, and 2019 for that matter, with the deep ball. As mentioned above, the Rams adjusted the roster to make Goff feel more comfortable and play to his skillset. Stafford brings plenty of much needed upgrades.
For one thing, Stafford has a killer arm that will allow receivers to actually make plays downfield. Now, the Rams offense as it sits now isn’t designed to be a high-flying offense like it was in 2018. That said, the Rams can actually make that a threat. This is why certain plays never worked because defenses knew that the possibility of the Rams actually throwing the ball downfield with Goff was nil. So not only does the deep-ball threat return, but the other plays will start to become much more effective.
One of the other more highly touted attributes of Stafford is his decision-making. I already discussed Goff’s poor decision-making above, but Stafford is a guy that simply doesn’t throw many interceptions. That’s impressive considering his offensive line was mediocre and other than Kenny Galloday and T.J. Hockenson, he really didn’t have too many elite options to pass to. Stafford will see an upgrade in weapons in just Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee alone.
One of other things to consider is Stafford’s scrambling ability. Let’s not get carried away though, Stafford is no Russell Wilson or Wolford for that matter, but he has enough mobility to extend drives. He is also a competent slider too. This isn’t to say that Goff didn’t use his mobility, but even those decisions weren’t always the best. To put things in perspective, Stafford had 29 rushing attempts for 112 rushing yards in 2020, while Goff had 51 attempts for 99 yards.
Stafford may not be the best QB in the league, but he’s a significant upgrade over Goff. The Rams offense as whole is talented. I expect the offense to be dangerous in 2021.
5. Stafford is a short-term investment
Stafford is a short-term solution at the quarterback position. The reality is that Stafford could be in another uniform after his contract expires in 2023. Now, the salary cap for the Rams may improve by that timeframe to where the Rams could ideally bring back Stafford should he flourish in Los Angeles.
However, we know that Snead and the front office likes to push the boundaries of the salary cap. It is in the best interest of the team that the Rams still scout a QB prospect either in this year’s NFL Draft or in 2022. It seems weird to think that far ahead since Stafford just arrived, but knowing Snead, there probably is already a “plan B” should things fall apart.