It was only five short years ago when the Rams sent the card in, making Jared Goff the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
After an inauspicious rookie season, Goff showed that he indeed had what it took.
All told for the Rams, he led the team to the playoffs in three out of four seasons as the full-time starter under center, including an appearance in Super Bowl LIII. He also made a couple of Pro Bowls.
All of this production led the Rams to reward Goff with an astounding $134 million extension, and all seemed well in the City of Angels.
And then 2020 happened, and the story began to unravel.
To get a good feel for Goff and what the heck happened, I went back and watched two of the Rams' games from the beginning of last season, one game from the middle of the year and the team's last two games, which happened to be playoff contests (Week 1 vs. DAL, Wk. 2 vs PHI, Wk. 7 vs. CHI, Wk. 18 vs. SEA and Wk. 19 vs. GB).
Goff looked crisp in the early two games, in McVay's demanding, high-tempo and quick-hitting offense.
However, toward the middle of the season, I noticed he did not look as crisp.
Then, in the two playoff games after Goff had suffered a broken thumb, he looked crisp only about half the time, and he looked like a fish out of water the other half of the time.
Clearly, McVay lost his confidence in Goff, and it even looked like Goff was losing confidence in himself. Goff looked far more tentative, and was seen holding the ball for too long on a variety of plays.
The Rams had seen enough, and they sent their once-prized signal-caller to Detroit, along with a 2021 third-round pick and two future first-rounders (2022 and 2023), in exchange for Matthew Stafford.
Confidence is paramount for a quarterback. A quarterback without confidence is like having a sports car with three tires.
Can Goff find his confidence again, after his old team gave up on him? The Lions sure hope he can. It is no small thing the Rams gave up on Goff, but it is also no small thing that their former college scouting director-turned-Lions GM (Brad Holmes) bet his new job on the fact that Goff can get it done in Detroit.
Holmes' decision to make Goff his guy should do the trick and restore Goff's confidence.
I would not at all be surprised to see Goff look like his old self, from his 2017-2019 days.
Nobody needed a change of venue more than Goff, who seemed to be caught up in an increasingly unhealthy, adversarial working relationship with McVay.
It felt personal from the outside-looking-in, and Goff did not respond well to it. I could even feel McVay's frustration, just from watching the film. And, I could see how Goff was becoming increasingly tentative.
I expect Goff to play like he has a new lease on life, now that he is free from McVay.
How about Detroit's new offensive system? Can Goff be even better in Detroit than he was in L.A.?
I believe the answer is yes.
I believe that to be true, because under new Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, we are going to see an offense that is built around running the ball and one that is also built on explosive plays.
This is perfect for Goff, who has a good play-action fake to begin with. And, I believe, as a result, he will find the long ball again. The same long ball he had before things went south in Los Angeles.
I also like the idea of a stronger running game, because that will take pressure off of him in the pocket, as well.
Do quarterbacks really change when they trade in one helmet for another? No, they do not.
However, they can find themselves in a system which fits them better, and I believe this will fit Goff better.
Will he still become tentative at times and hold the ball for too long? Maybe.
Will he still make some poor decisions with the ball when he is under heavy pressure? Probably.
Will he be able to take his game to the next level in Detroit, though? Yes.
I believe he will for the reasons I have stated above, but mostly because he has an organization that believes in him again and that makes all the difference.
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