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Comparing Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford

Read more on the similarities and differences between Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford

With a new era upon the Detroit Lions, it’s time to look at how their quarterback of 2021 -- Jared Goff -- compares to their signal-caller of the last 12 years in Matthew Stafford

Obviously, with the return the Lions received for trading Stafford to the L.A. Rams, it’s no secret that the value placed on both quarterbacks was high. 

Interestingly enough, it's actually Goff who has more Pro Bowl appearances and playoff victories, despite having played just five seasons in the league prior to 2021. However, Pro Bowls and wins are not the best ways to evaluate a quarterback. 

Taking a deep dive into the analytics, there are some stark differences and even some similarities in their games. 

Perhaps the biggest knock on Goff has been his ability -- or lack thereof – under pressure. Oftentimes, the play-action pass was his best friend and to prevent the defense from teeing off. 

A strong run game took plenty of pressure off of Goff, and opened up numerous passing lanes, with the defense loading up the box to stop the run. 

If recent history is any indication of what Goff will have to work with in Detroit, he won't be afforded the luxury of a dynamic rushing attack. 

The great quarterbacks in the game typically thrive in difficult situations. 

Per Pro Football Focus, in 2020, Stafford’s 91.8 passer rating under pressure was among the league's best. Meanwhile, Goff struggled. 

Goff’s 45.9 passer rating while under pressure was near the bottom. With seven interceptions to only four touchdowns, Goff has shown a tendency over his career to make poor decisions when the pass rush is getting to him. Only Denver's Drew Lock threw more interceptions under pressure last season. 

The good news is that when Goff is kept clean, he is much more efficient.


In three of the last four years, Goff has actually had a higher passer rating than Stafford when not under pressure. 

Goff’s 105.6 “clean” rating bested Stafford’s 97.6 rating in 2020. It will be imperative that the Lions' offensive line protects its new quarterback, if Detroit wants to be successful. 

Next up is deep passing -- 20 yards or more on downfield throws. 

Another gift of Stafford’s has always been his arm strength. Goff doesn’t have a weak arm by any means. But, when compared to Stafford, others, such as Goff, pale in comparison. 

The deep ball isn’t all about arm strength, though. 

Once again, going by last season’s figures, Stafford’s deep-ball passer rating (123.8) was top five in the league, while Goff (71.5) was in the bottom 10 of the league in the same stat. 

In the Rams’ offense, it appeared that Goff was limited in attempts -- whether that be due to the scheme or Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay’s diminishing faith in Goff. 

Over the last two years, Goff didn’t surpass nine percent for his number of pass attempts of at least 20 yards down the field. Goff’s 2020 season, in fact, was in the bottom three in terms of "aggressiveness" for a quarterback. 

However, in Goff’s statistically-best campaign in 2018, he threw the deep ball on 11.6 percent of his throws. Still, that figure is a relatively low amount when compared to the league average. 

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Lastly, let's take a look at the accuracy of Stafford and Goff. 

There is no easy way to measure this metric, as many factors come into play -- especially the amount of yards of separation from the intended target. 

Stafford has been known for his tight-window throws. Meanwhile, Goff has been on the opposite end of the spectrum. Due to the scheme Goff was in, there were plenty of wide-open targets for him to pass to. 


Perhaps the best metric to measure accuracy is Next Gen Stats' completion percentage above expected. 

Next Gen Stats takes many aspects into consideration, and comes up with a proprietary way to formulate accuracy. 

Goff and Stafford have gone back and forth the last four years for a better completion percentage above expected rating. 

Even Pro Football Reference’s “on-target” percentage of passes have been pretty similar -- within a single percent -- the last couple of seasons. 

All in all, Goff has shown that he can make it to the Super Bowl with the right team around him. He may not be able to carry a team, but no one can say he can’t win playoff games. 

With Goff, he needs to be kept clean and have easier reads to open receivers. If a player is open, he can hit them. You won’t see as many deep passes or threading of the needle, however. 

With the right talent and scheme, though, Goff can be more than serviceable. 

At only 26 years old, maybe, just maybe, Goff still has some developing to do, as well.

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