Matthew Stafford vs. Jared Goff: How has each QB played since blockbuster trade?

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It’s been almost nine months since the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions agreed to the blockbuster swap of their franchise quarterbacks. The Rams sent Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, who had asked Detroit for a trade just one week prior.

The move caught almost everyone off-guard, including Goff himself. But for the Rams, it was just the change they needed to get their offense back on track after two disappointing seasons with Goff under center.

Now six weeks into the season, we’re seeing exactly why the Rams pushed so hard to land Stafford and just how much better of a quarterback he is than Goff at this point in their careers. Stafford is very much in the MVP conversation, while Goff has yet to win a game without Sean McVay, showing the same weaknesses that he displayed in the last two seasons in L.A.

Their two worlds will collide on Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium when the 5-1 Rams host the 0-6 Lions. This Week 7 matchup is being dubbed the “Matthew Stafford reunion” and the “Jared Goff revenge game,” pitting each quarterback against his former team – following their breakups on completely different terms just nine months ago.

Now is as good a time as ever to check in on both quarterbacks, seeing how each has performed in the first six weeks of the season.

Matthew Stafford

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Yards

TDs

INTs

Comp. %

Rating

Y/A

Intended air yards

QBR

PFF grade

Stats

1,838

16

4

69.5%

116.6

9.2

9.1

75.0

77.5

NFL rank

4th

3rd

10th-most

7th

2nd

2nd

9th

1st

17th

Stafford has been everything the Rams hoped and more this season. His fit in Sean McVay’s offense has been seamless, just as everyone expected it would be. McVay hasn’t had to deceive defenses with play-action and jet motion as often with Stafford under center, a clear sign of his confidence in the quarterback to win simply by dropping back and finding open receivers.

The most noticeable difference between Stafford and Goff is in their aggressiveness. Stafford is more than willing to throw the ball downfield, while Goff hardly ever did that last season. Goff checked down far too often, showing a reluctance to take shots down the field and give his receivers a chance to make a play on the ball.

It’s why Stafford ranks ninth in intended air yards and Goff is 32nd, ahead of only Matt Ryan. The contrast in aggressiveness is easy to see in their passing charts from Week 5.

McVay trusts Stafford to throw the ball downfield, too, especially in third-and-long situations. According to Pro Football Reference, Stafford is 10-for-12 for 281 yards with nine first downs and one touchdown on third-and-10-plus yards. In those same situations, Goff is 8-for-12 for 75 yards with only two first downs. Stafford’s nine first downs on third-and-10 or more equal Goff’s total from last season, to put that into perspective.

Stafford isn’t necessarily forcing the ball down the field with reckless abandon, but he’s taking shots when they’re warranted and typically picking up big chunks of yardage in the process. It doesn’t hurt that he’s throwing no-look passes 15 yards down the field and making them seem like simple completions.

Against the Giants, he made what was surely one of his best throws of the season, fitting a ball deep down the field into a tight window between three defenders. It’s not a throw many quarterbacks would attempt, let alone complete.

And then there was this throw to Kupp over the middle against the Cardinals, another pass that was dropped in perfectly between three defenders for a 35-yard gain. These are the plays that were missing for the last two seasons due to Goff’s reluctance to throw downfield.

In just about every facet, Stafford has lived up to the hype. He’s played at a Pro Bowl level, is in the mix for NFL MVP and has the Rams sitting at 5-1. It would’ve been hard for him to play much better than he has.

Jared Goff

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Yards

TDs

INTs

Comp. %

Rating

Y/A

Intended air yards

QBR

PFF grade

Stats

1,505

7

4

66.8

86.9

6.3

6.6

32.9

60.9

NFL rank

17th

22nd

10th-most

14th

22nd

31st

32nd

29th

24th

Goff’s first six games with the Lions haven’t gone very well, to say the least. He’s still turning the ball over far too often, fumbling it a league-high six times, losing four of them to give him eight total turnovers in six games.

Obviously, we can’t ignore the fact that he doesn’t have the help that Stafford has been afforded in Los Angeles. Goff’s supporting cast is among the worst in the league, lacking any receiver that’s even close to the talent that Kupp and Robert Woods are. Van Jefferson would be his No. 1 wideout in Detroit, for comparison. His offensive line has been bad, too, allowing 15 sacks through six weeks – nine more sacks than Stafford has taken thus far.

But despite those weaknesses on the Lions’ roster, Goff is doing nothing to overcome them. He’s not making players around him better and his pressure awareness has not been very good. It’s many of the same issues that he had in Los Angeles.

Beat reporters in Detroit have seen many of the things that frustrated McVay and fans in Los Angeles the last two years. He doesn’t see the field well and has become less accurate than he was in 2017 and 2018 when he was playing at his best, a huge problem for the Lions.

And it’s not great that he’s throwing the ball away on fourth down, showing a lack of awareness.

It hasn’t been all bad for Goff, though. He’s still made some quality throws, like this one after navigating the pocket and keeping the play alive.

He’s always had talent, it’s just been a matter of making the right decisions and avoiding costly turnovers when plays break down. The Lions haven’t seen much of that so far and he hasn’t shown the ability to carry the offense the way Detroit needs him to.

Head coach Dan Campbell even went as far as to say Goff “needs to step up more than he has,” which is a clear indication that he hasn’t met the team’s expectations.

There’s still time for Goff to improve and get on track with his new team, but things haven’t gone swimmingly so far.

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