The NFL world erupted when the Los Angeles Rams completed a blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford, with many seeing it as a huge upgrade over Jared Goff. Count one of Stafford’s opponents this season as a skeptic regarding the Rams’ quarterback upgrade.
Los Angeles paid a high price for the quarterback switch, sending two first-round picks to the Detroit Lions in the Goff-Stafford swap. Many around the NFL, especially head coach Sean McVay, believe the Rams are a lot better at the most important position in the NFL. But San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward isn’t one of those people.
In a recent video, via Sports Illustrated, Ward questioned how Stafford is suddenly going to elevate the Rams into a Super Bowl contender when he found no postseason success with the Lions:
“I like Stafford, but they still will have the same players that he’ll be throwing the ball to. He’s the same quarterback who was on the Detroit Lions and they still didn’t go to the playoffs, and they had Megatron (Calvin Johnson). What was the problem over there in Detroit? Are you going to blame the city? What was the problem? Was it the money? If they city didn’t have enough money to bring players over there, why even have an NFL team? That’s a big question mark.”
Ward is correct; the Lions never won a playoff game with Stafford at quarterback. In fact, they made the playoffs just three times with him under center and finished with a .500-plus record just four times in 12 seasons. But while he did have Calvin Johnson, the rest of the Lions’ roster was extremely underwhelming, and the Matt Patricia era was a disaster.
Ward focused on comparing the postseason track records of Goff and Stafford. In that regard, as he states, only one of them played in the Super Bowl:
“They went and traded Jared Goff, who went to the playoffs several times and went to the Super Bowl. Yeah, he lost. He went to the Super Bowl, though. I’ve yet to see that with Matt Stafford. And I’m saying, he’s still great. I believe he’s a top 10 quarterback, maybe top 5. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m just going off of what I see. And I see Jared Goff got those boys to the Super Bowl.”
But circumstances play a crucial role in how a quarterback and his team perform. Goff played on one of the best teams in the NFL, operating an offense that head coach McVay specifically created to mask Goff’s weaknesses.
When comparing the production for Stafford and Goff, there’s a clear gap in how these two signal-callers should be viewed.
The advanced stats display an even wider gap between the two. Stafford’s passer ratings on deep throws (123.8) and play-action (99.5 passer rating) were superior to Goff's (71.5 rating on deep throws, 92.4 on play-action).
Fittingly, the biggest question about the 49ers defense this season is the secondary. We might just see if McVay and Goff remember these words and attack Ward relentlessly this season.