New QB Jared Goff not looking at Lions as a rebuild: 'They're doing it the right way'
Jared Goff's introductory press conference as a member of the Detroit Lions was everything you might have expected. There were smiles and superlatives to go with swagger spliced with sincerity.
There were also rejections of popular narratives, including the idea Goff needs to be fixed, or that the Lions are entering a full-on rebuild. Meanwhile, the questions about whether he's viewed as the franchise's long-term solution at the quarterback position, those will linger beyond today.
What was made abundantly clear is the Lions believe, wholeheartedly, Goff is the right man to be their quarterback of the present, one capable of leading a cultural overhaul in the post-Matthew Stafford era.
"We were so excited to get this thing done because this player is really everything we're looking for from that standpoint," coach Dan Campbell said. "There's so many different ways to define 'grit,' but I would say this — physical grit is one thing, and you need people and players with it, but you'll never have physical grit without mental grit, and that's what this player I'm about to announce has, OK?
"This guy, there are three things I think about with Jared Goff: He's tough, he's durable, and most importantly, he's a winner," Campbell said. "He has won in this league, he knows how to win, and I've told him this, and I'm going to continue to tell him — all we need from him is to come in and play quarterback. You just play quarterback. You don't have to be a savior here, you just be the quarterback. His job is to make the right decisions, put the ball in the receivers' (hands), give them a chance to make a play."
For the most part, Goff comes across as California cool, but in the 20-plus minutes he answered questions from reporters, he made every effort to connect with his new fanbase, historically distilled down as tough and blue collar.
He confidently vouched for his own toughness, when contrasted against Stafford, and quickly shot down the idea this organization would be traveling through some deep valleys before it would have the fortune of seeing peaks.
"It's not a rebuild at all, to be honest," Goff said. "I know you guys are going to throw that word around. I don't see it as that at all. I think it takes the right pieces to win, but it can happen in one offseason. It's going to take a lot of hard work and that's the challenge I think I'm most excited for — is the challenge of bringing this team and bringing this city and bringing this culture back to what it should be.
"I know it won't happen overnight," Goff said. "I know it won't happen in a week. It won't happen in a month, but it can happen very quickly. It's the right people. They're doing it the right way and I think from all I've heard about (owner) Sheila (Ford Hamp) and everything she's done since she got to take over in May, it's really been a special thing so far."
Holmes' first move, even though it didn't become official until this week, was landing Goff. And if you look at the full trade with the Los Angeles Rams, which sent Stafford out west in exchange for not just Goff, but a trio of draft picks, including a pair of first-rounders, it's easy to see the incoming quarterback as a throw-in as opposed to the featured piece.
Despite two Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl appearance on Goff's resume, the Rams saw Stafford — a quarterback nearly seven years older with a growing list of injury concerns — as a significant upgrade. You don't pay that price otherwise.
And there's little questioning Goff's production has slipped the past two years, lowlighted by his ball security. He's thrown 29 interceptions across the past two seasons.
But Holmes, who as the Rams college scouting director, played a critical role in scouting Goff before the franchise traded up to select him No. 1 overall in 2016, doesn't see a player in need of repair.
"Well, you know, I'm not sure I'm following where he actually dropped off," Holmes said. "...Again, he's won a lot of games throughout his tenure with the Rams, so, you know, Jared just has to be Jared. The talent and the arm talent and everything is easy to see. The toughness is what's extremely impressive.
"...Not really sure about him getting back, but we will make sure he is surrounded with the right pieces in place, the right structure in place," Holmes continued. "We have a phenomenal coaching staff, so we don't have any doubts he can still be the winner that he's already proven to be going forward."
That was always the Lions problem with Stafford, an inability to surround him with the right pieces during his 12 years with the franchise. But Holmes and Campbell aren't responsible for the failures of the past, only what happens from this point on.
And with the way the brass raved about their new signal-caller, there's reason to believe Goff might be here for a while, although no one was ready to state that clearly.
Goff acknowledged he's had conversations with Holmes about what the team will do with their first-round pick in April, including whether a quarterback was in play with that selection.
Additionally, Holmes declined to say whether a contract restructure was in the cards, an act that would simultaneously clear cap space to address immediate needs while locking in Goff as the quarterback beyond this season.
For now, everyone would prefer to focus on the present.
"I do expect Jared to come in and be our starting quarterback," Holmes said. "I don’t see anything other than that. With respect to where we’re at at seven overall, with the draft, and regarding the quarterback position — like I told you guys, and the position hasn’t changed, when you’re picking inside the top 10, you’re not in a position to ignore any positions. You’re just not.
"The quarterback position is very important, and if the value’s there and the right guy’s there, he’d be in heavy consideration. This doesn’t change anything that we spoke about previously regarding the draft. But we do expect Jared to come in and compete to be a starter."