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What was with Mike Silver’s weird puff piece on Jared Goff?

Where did this agenda come from? The answer may not surprise you!

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

NFL.com’s Michael Silver posted an overtly-biased article on Sunday evening in which he detailed — and then emphasized with his own anti-Rams narrative — some post-trade comments by Jared Goff. We even posted a story about one comment by Goff that was teased by Silver on Sunday morning, in which Goff says he’s just happy to be with a team that “appreciates” him now.

At the time, I assumed the story would be about Goff’s feelings towards the Rams organization, but instead the article reads like an agreement from Silver to the former LA quarterback that he’d help him take shots at a franchise that paid Goff over $80 million for five underwhelming seasons. To tip the scales further, Silver also writes about Goff like he’s the quarterback who teams were offering first round picks for instead Matthew Stafford.

Or that the Rams basically had to pay one first rounder to acquire Stafford and one first rounder to unload Goff.

When Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay phoned Jared Goff Saturday night to tell the quarterback he was being traded to the Detroit Lions, Goff had barely uttered “OK” when he saw that his father, Jerry, was calling on the other line. As a man accustomed to making quick decisions in the heat of the moment, Goff didn’t hesitate.

“I’ve gotta go,” he told his soon-to-be-former boss, and clicked off to talk to his dad about the next chapter of his NFL career.

How did Goff’s “quick decisions in the heat of the moment” turn out for the Rams over the last two years? Also, it actually sounds to me like this is a story about a quarterback who hung up on a head coach like he was Ferris Bueller accidentally answering a phone call from Principal Rooney.

(Not that you should take phone calls from Jeffrey Jones.)

Sean McVay is the only reason Goff didn’t go full Jeff Fisher, so I’m not sure that this moment is as commendable as Silver thinks that it is.

Two years after guiding the Rams to an epic comeback road victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game — only to suffer a Super Bowl defeat that both he and McVay nobly attempted to take the blame for — Goff was gone.

Silver takes effort to credit Goff for beating the Saints — glossing over both the other reasons for LA’s win that day and his abysmal postseason stats (six starts, 57% completions, four touchdowns, two interceptions, two fumbles, 79.9 passer rating) — but leaves little real estate to talk about one of the worst Super Bowl performances in history.

In addition to the haul of picks, a price that certainly reflected Detroit’s willingness to assume the final two years of Goff’s contract, the Lions got a quarterback they believe can thrive in their revamped, run-heavy attack. And Goff, a young man who handled the Rams’ disrespectful divorce strategy of the past several weeks with quiet dignity, got something valuable out of the deal, too.

Narrative-based writing without any facts. Today Jared Goff is a “young man” of “quiet dignity.” But another writer with a different agenda could just as easily say paint Goff as something else. I’m not here to paint Goff as anything. But where exactly are we getting “quiet dignity”? He didn’t tweet? He didn’t start a podcast to talk about his football life? What alternative reality are we expecting from Goff?

And what “disrespectful” actions have the Rams taken? It’s not an answer that we’ll get from the article.

Were we so inclined, we could spend paragraphs and paragraphs breaking down the dissolution of the once-airtight McVay/Goff connection, delving deep into the vagaries of the Rams’ schematic evolution (or lack thereof), the coach’s dissatisfaction with Goff’s performance (especially as it related to the QB’s turnover tally the past two seasons) and the accompanying drop in confidence as the tension ramped up. With all due (dis)respect to the analytics nerds and wannabe GMs on social media and elsewhere, some very smart coaches, players and talent evaluators in the football world believe there is a legitimate case to be made on each man’s behalf, and the estimation of Goff by many of those experts is much higher than many fans might assume.

Silver should be inclined to take time to explain why he’s gone the anti-McVay scheme route when clearly so many others have had an easy time settling on a belief that Jared Goff has been the main problem with LA’s offense for the last two years. Goff was available for any team to trade for and most NFL teams are nothing if not desperate for a new starting quarterback.

Look at what Matthew Stafford cost.

Look at what reported packages for Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers could cost.

Look at...well, just look at Jared Goff! The Rams gave up a lot of draft picks to get him, a lot of money to keep him, and a little bit of both to get rid of him.

But despite that desperation, nobody in the NFL wanted Jared Goff. By Silver’s own admission, the Lions demanded more draft picks if they were also going to take on Goff in the trade. It’s a contradiction from which there’s no reasonable escape.

Also, don’t go after analytics and social media. That’s my territory and you’re making me look bad.

Let’s table that debate, for the moment, and accept the fact that McVay — whatever his reasons — decided Goff was no longer the guy he wants running his offense. At the very least, the messy handling of the transition from Goff to Stafford was hardly the organization’s finest hour.

Nobody else doesn’t know the reasons.

Routinely trashed this season on FOX telecasts, specifically those with Troy Aikman as the lead analyst, Goff could reasonably assume that McVay’s words about his quarterback’s play in network production meetings were far from glowing.

Not only the strangest part of Silver’s article, the random Troy Aikman name drop is also one issue in which there was a direct response. And it wasn’t good for Silver.

Aikman told SI’s Jimmy Traina that he’s not on board with Silver’s “agenda” to imply that he was relaying displeasure from McVay to Goff via the broadcast booth:

“Unlike Michael Silver, I strive to be fair and balanced and do not have an agenda when doing my job,” said Aikman. “The record will show that I have been a strong supporter of Jared Goff’s over the years. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Rams and Jared Goff, he did not perform at his best in the games that I broadcasted this season and I’m confident Jared would be the first to agree.”

It is almost as if Jared Goff told this to Silver (presumably that conversation lasted much longer than the one between Goff and the coach that helped him get a $134 million contract) and for unknown reasons, Silver decided to run with that /r/conspiracy-level narrative.

And yet, Goff had some impressive performances in 2020 (Eagles, Bills, Bucs, Cardinals) and helped push the Rams into postseason contention.

Haha.

Devastated, Goff thought his season was done. Told he could have surgery to insert three pins that might allow him to come back for the Rams’ first playoff game — assuming the team could qualify — Goff went for it, like a team player should.

A football player wanted to play in a football game. It’s not worth typing words for.

McVay told Goff that, with a rematch against the Seahawks in Seattle looming four days later, he had to make a decision on his starter and stick with it. Given the uncertainty about how Goff would be able to throw following thumb surgery, and the tight timeline, McVay was going with backup John Wolford, who had just made his first career start against the Cardinals. Wolford would get all of the first-team reps in practice, and Goff would work off to the side.

Nothing wrong in any of this by McVay.

Goff was upset. Intellectually, he understood McVay’s dilemma and line of thinking. As a competitor, it killed him that he wouldn’t be out there. The coach and quarterback said some difficult things to one another. They spoke for four hours. One thing McVay did not say, however, was that he was benching Goff because he wanted Wolford to play, period.

In retrospect, he probably should have.

Again, McVay is doing nothing wrong. In fact, he gave his backup quarterback four hours that he could have dedicated to another area.

So what happened in the playoff game? Wolford got knocked out with a neck injury the first quarter, and Goff came jogging onto the field — with zero reps, 12 days after thumb surgery — and gutted out a game that was one of the bigger triumphs of the McVay era.

Nobody was upset with Goff managing the Rams to a playoff win. There’s nothing else here except for a made-up “hero” narrative. And I think he’s okay without reps for 1-2 practices. He had five years to learn how to be a starting NFL quarterback.

Silver then goes on to recount comments by McVay and Snead that have been repeated enough times on Turf Show Times already, but you remember the gist. They were leaving the position open-ended, which any organization would reasonably do as they were evaluating their options. It’s not an offense to Jared Goff, it’s out of respect for Jared Goff and for other players.

I’ll only say that Silver compared Les Snead’s press conference to a “bad standup-comedy audition” to which I have to things to say:

  • Why hyphenate “standup-comedy”?
  • What’s a standup audition? Last Comic Standing is a (bad) reality competition show, but that’s not how the rest of standup works.

Then Goff got traded.

In fairness to Goff, he was blindsided.

I thought Goff wasn’t blindsided because the coach and the GM both made comments saying that they were evaluating the position?

Neither Snead nor McVay had told him the team wanted to move on, or anything close to that. For a 26-year-old, who, since being thrown into a tough situation his rookie year, has consistently displayed toughness, commitment, positivity and team-centric behavior during his time with the franchise, it was a crappy way to learn he was unwanted, yet he refused to fire back.

Do teams typically call every player that they discuss in trades? What if the Rams wanted to see if they could upgrade the position, couldn’t, decided to stick with Goff — but had already told him, “Hey we are gonna see if we can get you over to Detroit”?

It doesn’t make logical sense.

McVay, for what it’s worth, was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas

Zero. It’s worth zero.

Yes, he was being dumped by the Rams, but he was also being courted by a long-struggling organization that hopes its latest facelift can lead to its first postseason win in three decades.

A team agreed to pay him a lot of money to be their starting quarterback, of course they are treating him well. It’s also no secret that the Lions demanded extra compensation for the right to call Goff their starting quarterback. For now. Let’s talk after the draft. Or after the next one.

For what it’s worth: A run-heavy attack, and the play-action opportunities that should follow, would seem to be a nice match for Goff’s skill set.

For what it’s worth: Isn’t that the plan that just got Goff canned? While playing with exponentially better personnel around him?

The Rams are going for a Super Bowl win next year and they made the boldest move of the year. I don’t think giving up first round picks in 2022 and 2023 for a chance to win in 2021 will be topped this offseason. I find that admirable, but I’m not here today to necessarily convince you to side with the Rams.

I just find it strange that anyone is attempting to side against them for it.

And in case you’ve just never heard of Michael Silver, I’ll borrow a line from his NFL.com bio:

A proud graduate of the University of California