Once the right arm of the Rams, Jared Goff is now the leader of the Lions. Two and a half seasons after the trade that sent him from LA to Detroit after his career had taken a dip, Goff has reemerged has one of the top passers in the NFL.
Goff's time with the Rams ended in acrimony. Sean McVay kicked him to the curb to bring in Matthew Stafford just two years after Goff had helped the team reach the Super Bowl and signed a $134 million extension.
Instead of wallowing, Goff demanded answers on his way out the door. His former teammate and left tackle Andrew Whitworth recently told the LA Times that Goff insisted on meeting with McVay following the trade because "he wanted the full breakdown of why."
“I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’” Whitworth said. “And he’s like, ‘I told Sean I still want to do our exit meeting…’ And I was like, ‘You’re crazy. Why would you want to do an exit?’ And he said, ‘I want him to tell me right to my face what I did wrong. I want to hear it from him. How do I get better?’ He wanted closure.”
Asked about that meeting after leading a fourth-quarter comeback in the Lions' win over the Bears on Sunday to push Detroit's record to 8-2, Goff told NBC Sports, "We spent four years together and he traded me on a phone call. So, I did wanna talk to him face to face. You know? That was half of it.
"But yeah, I did want to know what I could do better and where to improve. He was honest. It was a long conversation. There was a lot that came out of it. It was good. Got some clarity. Don’t know if I got all the clarity, but I got some.”
Goff had his worst game of the season Sunday, throwing three interceptions and narrowly avoiding a pick-six. But he was at his best when it mattered most, executing two touchdown drives in the final four minutes to lift the Lions to a 31-26 win.
“I think I’ve gotten better at not overthinking things that really don’t matter,” he told NBC Sports. "Everybody in this game makes mistakes. How do you find a way to overcome them, and be the quarterback for your team that they need, and find a way to win?”
He's found a way in eight of Detroit's 10 games this season, and 16 of its last 20 going back to last November. His passer rating over that span is 99.8. His current coach sang his praises after Sunday's win for making the throws the Lions needed most: "In a game that he’s not playing his best game, I think that speaks volumes," said Dan Campbell.
"Here’s what we know about Goff. At the very least he’s going to be mentally and physically tough, and you can always count on that. You can bank on that, and today he showed his resiliency. When we needed those plays when he showed up in no-huddle mode, he was awesome," said Campbell.