INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Sean McVay has finally given a bit of real insight into the reasons why the Los Angeles Rams traded Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford.
Most notably, McVay said he’s a happier, better head coach after the Rams’ high-profile quarterback change in March.
“I think I’ve been very happy,” McVay said Thursday when asked his thoughts about Stafford. “Everybody says, ‘Man, you just seem like you’re in a better mood this offseason.’ I say, ‘You’re damn right I am.’”
The Rams wrapped up their offseason program Thursday with an open practice at SoFi Stadium in front of about 30,000 fans mostly getting their first looks at the team’s multibillion-dollar football palace.
A few hours before the workout, McVay spoke about Stafford — and indirectly, Goff — while on stage with his new quarterback at a news conference for the Los Angeles Super Bowl Organizing Committee.
McVay previously has spoken largely in his usual anodyne generalities about the blockbuster trade to acquire the 33-year-old Stafford in exchange for Goff, Los Angeles’ starting quarterback for four consecutive winning seasons under McVay.
“So this guy (Stafford), he’s a special guy,” McVay said. “I think one of the best ways that I can describe him, when you hear people that have been around him, there’s a known confidence where when he walks into a room, you always feel his presence, but he’s got a great humility about himself that everybody loves being around him. He’s one of those guys that I think is a true igniter.
“He makes everybody around him better. I feel like I’ve become a better coach in the few months that we’ve been able to spend together, and we’re looking forward to doing a lot of good things together.”
McVay and Stafford were on stage to promote the Super Bowl host committee’s selection of 56 community organizations receiving $10,000 grants for their humanitarian efforts.
Los Angeles traded Goff, two first-round draft picks and a third-round pick to Detroit for Stafford, who played 12 prolific seasons for the Lions without ever winning a playoff game.
Stafford politely asked to leave Detroit with the team headed into yet another rebuilding phase, but Goff had no desire or intention to leave his home state until he got the call from McVay telling him about the trade on March 18.
Goff also wavered from his reluctance to speak frankly about the trade Monday on “The Rich Eisen Show,” saying he was completely blindsided by the Rams’ move. Goff led Los Angeles to the Super Bowl, won two NFC West titles and earned two Pro Bowl selections — one more than Stafford — while earning three playoff berths with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016.
“To be honest, I had no inclination of it,” Goff said. “It came somewhat from left field when it happened.”
Goff was a productive starter under McVay, but the Rams’ offense regressed over the past two years after putting up some of the NFL’s best numbers during McVay’s first two seasons. Only three quarterbacks committed more than Goff’s 17 turnovers last season, and McVay’s patience finally ran thin with Goff late in the season after 3 1/2 years of unwavering public support.
After Goff broke his thumb late in the regular season, McVay kept backup John Wolford as his starter for the Rams’ playoff opener in Seattle, only to turn the team back over to Goff when Wolford incurred a neck injury early against the Seahawks. McVay used a conservative game plan while Goff led the Rams to a win in Seattle, and Goff passed for 174 yards in a season-ending loss at Green Bay one week later.
“I had a lot of fun there,” Goff said. “There was a lot of good times. Obviously it ended sour. ... No, there was not any inclination that anything like that was coming, but that’s what happens, and I’m excited to be here (in Detroit).”