Lions hot topics: Jared Goff vs. Matthew Stafford by the numbers

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions quarterbacks rated

Herein lies the debate; one player has lots of individual accomplishments, some assisted by having played more years. The other has been part of better teams and still managed to garner some individual accolades, too. Extrapolating out Goff’s numbers using simple averages, if he played 165 games in his career, he would have accumulated 43,452 yards, 256 scores, with 131 interceptions.

These averages and numbers don’t happen in a vacuum, though. Both men have had to play with a line, receivers, running backs, defensive play, and the coaching of their respective franchises.

We are going to consider the analytic measurements of each man over their common time in the NFL to add to the discussion since simply stating that “Stafford has the bigger arm” or “Goff has actually won a playoff game” don’t settle the argument.

ESPN’s Total QBR (quarterback rating) is one such way of looking at quarterback total performance, which adjusts for opponent, distributes credit based on which person did the most work, accounts for the importance of plays, and includes how clutch a signal-caller is. You can read their explanation, here.

The Total QBR takes into account total quarterback contributions and weights more valuable plays and calculates a value from 0-100. It asks, “How successful was the play for the team, given its context?” As an example, a six-yard pass on third-and-five is better than a six-yard pass on third-and-ten, although there is no difference in the stat-line or traditional methods of quarterback rating.

This metric nets us similar findings to any measurement we have seen. Goff is ranked 24th (58.5), Stafford 16th (68.8) for 2020, and Stafford has outperformed Goff in three of the previous four years. It’s fairly significant because two of those years Goff was on his way to the Super Bowl with his team improving.

(We left out Goff’s rookie year because it would skew the numbers further in Stafford’s favor, mostly due to him being an experienced NFL starter)