It’s been a year since the Detroit Lions moved on from Matthew Stafford, and early returns on the trade are not looking that great to some given recent events.
The Los Angeles Rams just punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, beating the San Francisco 49ers 20-17, and while Stafford didn’t have a huge game statistically to lead in the win, that hasn’t stopped some in the national media from thumping their chest about him while also attempting to discredit former Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff along the way.
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Goff went the other way in the now-infamous trade, and while it has worked out so far to the Rams advantage, that was to be expected given the fact that the team had more to gain in the short-term with a “win now” roster. On his Fox Sports show The Herd, Cowherd discussed the game and how things played out for Stafford. As he said, Stafford’s experiences made him stronger, perhaps even stronger than the former quarterback of the team.
“The Los Angeles Rams should send a thank you note to the Detroit Lions. Thank you Lions for 13 years of chaos and trailing and Matt having no running game and letting the hell get beat out of him for 13 years. Thank you Lions. Because of that, he is so equipped for now. Not in spite of it, because of it,” Cowherd said. “It’s why all these quarterbacks went to junior colleges, got cut, dropped in the draft. You know how emotionally strong you have to be in games like yesterday? The pressure. This Rams organization and this owner is all-in. There’s pressure on (Sean) McVay, there’s pressure on Les Snead, there’s pressure on Matthew Stafford. Jared Goff doesn’t win that game.”
While Cowherd makes an interesting point about how Stafford was able to have enough mettle to withstand a few close games in the playoffs, he could have made it without insulting Goff. During his time with the Rams, Goff also won plenty of close games, and managed to pull out a thriller of his own in the 2019 NFC championship:
Recency bias makes that easy to forget, but the fact is, Goff has walked the exact same path Stafford has with the Rams to this point in time. It would be easier for Cowherd to point out how impressed he was with Stafford without invoking Goff’s name.
Stafford’s run this playoff is certainly impressive, but it’s fair to point out that Goff has also had success in similar circumstances. Proclaiming he wouldn’t have won the same game seems like more than a bit of a stretch.
Goff Found His Own Success During NFL Career
Even though many like to trash Goff, he has still enjoyed some good production during his career to this point. Clearly, Detroit isn’t just getting a pair of first-round draft picks and a third-round pick, they are getting a quarterback who was in the Super Bowl just three years ago. Goff, a former top pick himself in 2016 out of Cal, has been a dependable player who has won plenty of big games in his career in the rough and tumble NFC West. So far, he’s thrown 126 touchdowns, 63 interceptions, 21,416 yards and has been a two-time Pro Bowler in 2017 and 2018. Late this season, Goff showed the kind of form he had at times, throwing for 1,136 yards, 11 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions over the final five games he played. Goff himself led a late comeback against Minnesota this year:
While Goff might not be comparable to Stafford in every single way, he is younger and it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has played in plenty of big games of his own through the years.
Brad Holmes Believes Stafford Trade Win-Win
Many like Cowherd might think the Lions got the short end of the stick thanks to all the winning Stafford has done this season and currently, the team’s brass clearly doesn’t see it that way. That’s especially true in the case of Brad Holmes, Detroit’s general manager.
Holmes doesn’t typically speak much, but recently, he joined 97.1 The Ticket for an interview and touched a bit on the specifics of the deal which was consummated just over a year ago. As he said as recapped by ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, there was another team interested in the Carolina Panthers, but the general manager believes things worked out well for both teams all things considered.
“Lions GM Brad Holmes confirmed to 97.1 The Ticket that Carolina did have interest in Matthew Stafford before the LA trade. “He was very cooperative in the process,” Holmes said of Stafford. Holmes says it worked out for both sides with the Lions getting draft capital,” Holmes said via Woodyards’s tweet.
Though the Lions don’t have Stafford and are forced to watch him from the sidelines, calling out Goff for games he already won is a bit silly on Cowherd’s part. Holmes’ approach is probably the best one for fans to remember.
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