Allen Park — Jared Goff is still bitter about the way his time with the Los Angeles Rams ended, but the Detroit Lions quarterback is appreciative of the way former coach Sean McVay bemoaned his and the organization’s approach to trading Goff this offseason.
“Yes, I wish there was better, clearer communication,” McVay said Monday, when discussing the deal that shipped Goff and a trio of draft picks to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford. “To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn’t be totally accurate in that. I’ll never claim to be perfect, but I will try to learn from some things that I can do better, and I think that was one of them without a doubt.
“You don’t want to catch guys off guard. It came together a lot faster than anybody anticipated, but yeah, of course I think that any time that tough decisions and things like that where people are affected, you always want to be as understanding, as empathetic as possible, think about it through the other person’s lens. There’s certainly things that I know I would do it a little bit differently if — when those situations arise in the future.”
Nine months later, Goff admits he’s still sour about how the deal went down and how poorly things were handled by the Rams. Those feelings won’t change any time soon, or maybe ever, but he’s grateful for the way McVay has publicly reflected on the situation.
“It takes a man to say something like that, so I appreciate it,” Goff said Wednesday. “It still happened the way it did, but I do appreciate him saying that and have all the respect in the world for them over there.”
Working together, McVay and Goff had plenty of success in Los Angeles. In four seasons, Goff posted a 42-20 record, earning a pair of Pro Bowl selections while leading the Rams to three postseason appearances and a trip to Super Bowl LIII.
Goff continues to reject the notion that his relationship with McVay had eroded to the point that it was unsalvageable ahead of the trade. And the coach insists the timing of the deal had less to do with Goff and more about the ability to acquire a player with Stafford’s talents.
“That was why that decision was made and that was why things came together as quickly as they did because we felt like it was a rare opportunity to acquire a player of Matthew’s caliber,” McVay said. “Those opportunities just don’t come up often.”
So far, the trade has played out the way the Rams would have hoped. Stafford is posting the best numbers of his career and the team is off to a 5-1 start as one of a handful of legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Goff, meanwhile, has struggled in his new surroundings. The Lions are the league’s last winless team and he’s throwing for the fewest yards and touchdowns since his rookie season, when he went without a win in seven starts after taking over the job midseason.
Ahead of this week’s matchup with the Lions, much of the attention is understandably on the quarterbacks facing their former franchises. Echoing comments made by Stafford after the Rams game last Sunday, Goff said he’s doing his best to treat this like any other game. And while there will be plenty of handshakes and hugs before kickoff, once the whistle blows the goal is to make it like any other game.
“I think to sum it up, it will be fun to see all those people and it will be fun to be there,” Goff said. “Of course, you’re motivated, and of course you have the chip on your shoulder. I’ve spoken about that. There was some disrespect felt toward the end. There was some sourness there toward the end and you still feel that, you still have that chip on your shoulder.
“But, at the same time, when the game starts, if I let any of that come into how I’m going to play the game, it would be selfish. I’m going to play the game just how I would any other game. To be honest, I’m not worried about feeling some type of way once the game starts.”
Despite playing for the Rams his first five seasons, Sunday will also be unique for Goff because it will be the first time he’ll play in front of fans at SoFi Stadium, which opened last year with empty stands because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think he’ll be received well,” McVay said. “I think the L.A. fans and I think the Rams fans know what a great job he had done and how much — I think how much he meant to the Rams organization both as a football player and also the community.”