I’ve already written about why to draft a QB. If you’re interested in that, you can check it out here.
In order to discuss why to keep Jared Goff, you have to know who he is. If you think he’s a top tier QB, well then that’s the reason to keep him. You don’t need anything else. I don’t think he is.
I’m going to use Mike Sando’s tiers because I think it’s a useful metric. Tier 1 QBs are guys who can have multiple MVP quality seasons (Peyton, Brady, Mahomes, etc). Tier 2 QBs are guys who can have an MVP season if everything goes right but aren’t good enough to do it consistently (Cam, Matt Ryan, etc). Tier 3 QBs are competent starters but their success mostly depends on their offensive infrastructure (Goff, Cousins, Carr, etc). Tier 4 QBs are either not good enough to be starting or there isn’t enough information to put them in a tier (not good enough: Darnold, Zach Wilson, probably Baker; not enough info: Pickett, Fields, Trey Lance).
Why is Goff a tier 3 QB imo? Let’s start with his strengths.
1) Mental Toughness - I think it’s funny that some people on this board say we shouldn’t draft a QB high because it might mess up Goff’s confidence. This guy got traded for two first round picks and a third rounder to what was the worst team in the league, watched the guy who replaced him win a Super Bowl and then bounced back. Goff had likely his best season after he was discounted by basically everybody. That’s mental toughness.
2) Above average arm strength - Goff isn’t Herbert or Allen out there, but I also think it’s funny when people say he can’t throw deep. Did you see that throw to Kalif in the final regular season game? That was a dime.
3) In structure playmaking - Goff can read the field and find the open (or most open) guy. There’s a reason why the offense was so efficient this year. If the play provides a place to go with the ball, Goff will find it, and…
4) Above average accuracy - More often than not he’ll land it. And when Goff is off, it’s not like Zach Wilson off. It’s usually a little low or a little behind but still catchable by an elite receiver.
5) Play action king - Goff is a great fit for the run focused, play action heavy offense, and he excels in it. If the defense can’t force the Lions out of play action, they’re gonna get sliced up.
6) Willing to take hits - Nothing to add here, some QBs are willing to stand in the pocket and take a hit if the play demands it and some are scared of it, Goff is not one of the scared ones.
And the weaknesses?
1) Basically no creativity - In the modern NFL, there’s the play, and then there’s the secondary play if the actual play fails. The most common way to extend the offense and still move the ball is scrambling/running. Though it’s possible to do it in the pocket if you have basically perfect pocket control, which Goff… does not. He’s much better than he was previously, but he still kind of skitters as opposed to confidently steps.
2) Bad under Pressure - Relatedly, when the rush is coming and Goff hasn’t found some place to go, he panics. The difference between Goff under pressure and not is enormous, much more than most other QBs.
3) Not a huge risk taker - This could easily be a problem with the current roster. Lions don’t really have a Tee Higgins style ball winner on the roster. While not throwing an interception over the second half of the season is a good thing, it can sometimes hint at a limitation for the QB. This was the major issue with Alex Smith, he wouldn’t try the most difficult throws even when they were absolutely necessary. Goff is similar.
4) Can’t hit the most difficult throws - Anticipation, tight window throws towards the sideline. This isn’t a big weakness because you shouldn’t build the whole ship of your offense out of this, but the best defenses are going to take away the middle of the field. Can Goff beat them? So far, he hasn’t shown it in his career yet.
So why should the Lions stick with Goff anyway?
1) Teams aren’t Spreadsheets - There’s a human element to team building that NFL analysts often ignore. They might properly evaluate the players and/or coaches and then say what might be the correct move if no humans were involved, but there are humans involved. This team likes Goff! So it’s a risk to move on if you don’t know if the new QB is a culture fit. Part of the identity of the Lions right now is nobody believes in us and grit & grind. Goff has earned that by being discarded and rebuilding his value in the league. If you take a QB sixth overall, are they going to fit in with this group? It’s worth thinking about.
2) The Lions aren’t Kansas City - When KC made the move to take Mahomes, they had made the playoffs multiple times and even been to the Super Bowl in the past. They needed the extra boost that a superstar QB could bring. I admit it, I just want to win the division and/or a playoff game to end the drought. Obviously the goal should be to win a Superbowl, but even if the belief that Goff can’t win a Superbowl is accurate…I don’t care. At least, not yet. Maybe after three years of playoff appearances with only one win, I’ll say we absolutely have to get a new QB. But for now, it would be nice to be competent. So what if the ceiling is the 2017-2020 Rams…I’ll take that! That would be great to experience.
3) Goff needs infrastructure to succeed…Ok the Lions have it - If you were starting a team entirely from scratch, you’d worry about a guy like Goff, but at least for the next two years, the Lions have the proof of concept for Goff to succeed. They need a RG and RB (especially if Jamaal doesn’t re-sign), but this offense will be mostly the same for next two years (except maybe Ben Johnson leaving).
4) Goff gets less expensive every year - Well, his cost is roughly the same, but the cap keeps going up, so the percentage of the cap, and his salary compared to other QBs goes down relatively. While the competent or better QB starter on a rookie deal is the best QB value in football, the second best is often the QB at the end of his extension.
5) QBs are individuals, not simply a spot on a ranking - People tend to think of QBs in terms of a clear 1-32 ranking as opposed to individuals with skill sets that can be utilized and flaws that can be covered up. There are more environments that a Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen can survive in than a Jimmy Garoppolo or Mac Jones, but it is not all environments for the first two or none for the latter two. And if you build an environment for a specific QB, changes have to be made if a new one is brought in to help their success. Even if the new one is "better" in a neutral environment. They might be "worse" in the specific environment built for the current QB.
6) This is a young team - A case can be made that a team as young as the Lions still needs veteran leadership. Perhaps Ragnow or Decker could be the voice in the locker room for the offense, but while they are very good veterans, they do not have a track record of team success. Are there elements to making the playoffs and winning in them that someone who has been there before can help with? I assume so.
7) Maybe all the MVP caliber QBs are already taken? - This is leaning hard into the gambler’s fallacy, but for a long time, Rodgers, Brady, Peyton, and Brees were the top QBs. You had very good QBs like Wilson, Luck, Rivers come through, but those first four were the real guys. Maybe we already know who this generation’s guys are. Maybe it’s Mahomes, Burrow, Allen, Lamar, and Herbert. Maybe there isn’t a rookie QB coming in the next 8 years who will be on that level.
8) It’s easier to get worse than to get better - Yeah, Holmes was correct when he said this. It’s also true of every position, but it has to be mentioned. We don’t know for sure about anything. Sometimes you take a QB, and they’re Zach Wilson, and then you have a really good team, and yet your future looks hopeless because you spent the 2nd overall pick on someone who doesn’t even look like they can be a competent backup.
Personally I think the Lions do need to take a QB by the 2024 draft if they want real long-term success, but I do think Goff is very useful, and there are lots of good reasons to hold onto him if the front office isn’t in love with any of the QBs this year.