With Stafford Trade, Rams Actually Make Ryan Pace Look Fiscally Conservative.

Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk comments on the inclusion of Jared Goff in the Rams trade for Matthew Stafford. The Rams also sent a 2021 third round draft pick along with first rounders in 2022 and 2023 to the Lions:

Initial reactions are emerging regarding the trade that will, as of March 17, send quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Lions to the Rams for quarterback Jared Goff, a pair of first-round picks, and a third-round pick. As one executive with a team not connected to the trade opined late Saturday night, the move “reeks of desperation” by the Rams.

The Lions didn’t get two ones and a three for Stafford. They got two ones and a three for Stafford plus taking on Goff’s contract. Basically, the Lions got extra for Stafford by taking Goff, who has $43.25 million in fully-guaranteed payments over the next two years, much of which has no offset attached to it. The Lions, despite any other offers they may have received for Stafford, got two ones and a three only because they took a terrible contract off the Rams’ books.

From the Rams’ perspective, it’s not a gamble as much as it is an effort to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. They paid Goff when they shouldn’t have paid him. And so, to unload a player in whom they invested two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a third-round pick in a 2016 trade with the Titans for the right to draft Goff, the Rams gave up another two first-round picks and a third-round pick, and they acquired Stafford.

I read that last paragraph and my jaw dropped for the truth of it. The Rams basically gave up four first round picks and a host of other picks for a 33 year old Matt Stafford.

All told between this trade, the Goff trade and trades for Jalen Ramsey and Brandin Cooks, the Rams will have been without first round picks since 2016 and will be without them until 2024. That’s seven years without a first round pick.

And you thought the Bears wasted draft capital. The Rams trade away picks like they’re going out of style.

Everyone who follows football knows that players acquired in the NFL draft are the life blood of every franchise. The only way to keep up with the salary cap is to keep bringing in younger, cheaper talent. If you are constantly trading for or signing veteran players like the Bears do, you eventually find yourself up against it with some tough choices in terms of extending older players that you’d rather not extend to push money off into future years to create room. Eventually, with no younger players in the pipeline, you simply have to let the older, big contracts go and eat the cap space.

Looked at in isolation, the price that the Rams paid for Stafford seemed a bit steep but considering that the first round picks are both in future years, I didn’t think it was totally out of line. But seen in the big picture, this is just one piece of a puzzle that, when put together, gives us a picture of total franchise mismanagement.

It is possible that the Lions are simply going to use those picks to trade up to get a quarterback this year. But if they keep them, this trade tells a different story.

By taking more picks in future years, you could argue that the Lions may be thinking that the Rams are a franchise on the brink of a collapse. The more they lose in 2021 and 2022, the better those first round picks are. The Rams play the NFC North and the AFC South next year which doesn’t seem to add up to an overly difficult schedule and they have talent, especially on defense. But the NFC West is a competitive division and most of that talent will be a year older with one less year on their contracts. You never know.

It might not happen in 2021 but eventually this may very well all fall apart on Rams GM Les Snead. Surely the bill for all of these veteran players he’s accumulating for draft picks comes due. At that point, the Rams may find themselves so far over the cap that they have to dismantle the franchise to get under it. And when it does, with picks where they are essentially betting against the Rams future, the Lions may be the primary beneficiaries.

Do the Bears Really Have “High Character” Players? And Other Points of View.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times fantasizes about the possibility of the Houston Texans trading quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Bears:
  • [I]f the Texans don’t want to trade Watson to an AFC team, the Bears would be a contender. In fact, the Bears are the top NFC betting choice (11-2 odds, per BetOnline.ag) as a landing spot for Watson if he is traded — behind the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets.

    I understand why Potash is entertaining thoughts along these lines and I also understand why the Bears would be the NFC favorite. The trade for Khalil Mack showed the world just how aggressive general manager Ryan Pace is when it comes to these things.

    But I can’t imagine it happening. First, I can’t imagine that the Texans would be stupid enough to trade a 25 year old franchise quarterback for any price. But, setting that aside, the Texans are going to want a quarterback in return as part of any potential deal. The Dolphins can give them Tua Tagovailoa and the Jets can give them Sam Darnold. The Bears can give them Nick Foles

  • Adam Jahns at The Athletic makes a good point
    about the Bears culture which both owner George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips touted as a reason for retaining Pace and head coach Matt Nagy at the Bears season ending news conference:
  • There was a quote from quarterback Mitch Trubisky
    that didn’t get enough attention after the Saints game.

    After the playoff loss, Trubisky was asked to explain the Bears’ drop off in offensive production against strong defenses. He said it was due to “a lot of things” and described their performance as “sloppy” in New Orleans. But he kept going.

    “Like I said, there’s a lot of things we need to do better, a lot of things we need to change and a lot of it is the culture and what we accept and what we don’t,” Trubisky said. “So we just have to keep getting better. And you’ve got to play your best ball against better teams like that. Especially Green Bay last week and the Saints this week, you have to show up to play and execute.”

    Jahns goes on to say that Trubisky might have been talking about the fact that wide receiver Anthony Miller was tossed from the game after reacting to Saints cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Javon Wims was ejected from an earlier contest for the same thing. The guess here is that Trubisky wasn’t talking about this specifically but it is peripherally related.

    I think McCaskey and Phillips define culture as having players who are nice guys. High character guys that don’t point fingers and hang tight as a team. This is a good thing. But its not precisely the same thing as having a winning culture. It’s a step towards it. But it’s not the same.

    All that “being a high character guy” stuff only takes you so far. At some point when both Miller and Wims were interacting with Johnson, a conflict in their heads took place. It was “I really want to hit this guy” Vs. “I’m going to hurt the team and have to face the wrath of Nagy”. In both cases, the player chose the former.

    The lack of discipline that these players showed reflects upon the coaching staff in general and Nagy in particular. I wouldn’t be the first one to point out that the end result might have been different had Wims been released after the first incident.

    To take it a step further, as Trubisky pointed out the lack of discipline results in sloppy play and poor execution. That results in losses, not the winning culture that the Bears dream of but don’t have.

    Nagy is a players coach. I would say in this case it was to a fault and the lack of respect that both players showed for his authority is a bad sign for the future.

  • Kevin Fishbain, also at The Athletic, addresses some key issues
    facing the Bears in terms of their defense in the offseason:
  • Any improvements to the defense should start with the pass rush, which will lead to the next problem area the past two seasons: takeaways. The players that should be the central focus for the next coordinator to do that will be Khalili Mack, Robert Quinn
    and Eddie Jackson. All three will be Bears next season, barring an unforeseen trade. It’s up to the coaches to get the best out of them.

    Let’s start with the pass rush. This falls squarely on the shoulders of outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino, who also failed to develop Leonard Floyd. Floyd had 10.5 sacks for the Rams this season. Monachino was brought in as the right hand man of defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. Now that Pagano has retired, I would say that there’s little reason to retain Monachino.

    Pagano has now been replaced by safeties coach Sean Desai

    Unlike Monachino, I’m not going to lay Jackson’s struggles entirely on Desai. Yet. But it looked to me like Pagano sacrificed a lot in terms of scheme to try to get Jackson and the other defensive backs going and to generate more turnovers. They played a lot of zone defense in the second half of the season. That keeps the defensive backs facing the quarterback and could, in theory, lead to more interceptions. But it didn’t work and it looked to me like it resulted in tentative play.

    There must be a reason for the drop off in turnovers. Desai has to be squarely in the cross hairs. He will bear even more responsibility now that he is the defensive coordinator.

  • Adam Hoge at NBC Sports Chicago thinks losing defensive line coach Jay Rodgers to the Los Angeles Rams is a big deal.
  • I think he’s right. Rodgers always seemed to come up with a surprise rotational player like a Mario Edwards, who came out of nowhere to produce for the bears this year at defensive end.

    What’s disappointing is that its looking like it might be a parallel move. Initially it was thought that new head coach Brandon Staley was going to make Rodgers the defensive coordinator and he hasn’t filled that role yet. But he hasn’t named Rodgers to it either. They currently have Giff Smith, who was the defensive line coach under the previous regime.

    One Final Thought

    Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times analyzes the Bears’ biggest offseason questions:

    Beside quarterback, Ryan Pace’s biggest challenge this offseason will be…

    Improving the pass-catchers on his roster. Tarik Cohen’s return will help, as will the momentum David Montgomery got from a breakout season. Bringing back [Allen] Robinson — and keeping him happy — should be a priority. The Bears need another pass-catching tight end, presuming they cut [Jimmy] Graham. Pace needs to decide whether to part with Miller; McCaskey’s frustration with the receiver doesn’t bode well for his return.

    I’m going to disagree with Finley on this. The biggest challenge that Pace faces is improving the offensive line. Veteran NFL writer Bob McGinn at The Athletic asked front office and personnel men in the NFC North to rank the players at each position for each team. Each Bears offensive lineman was last at his position except Cody Whitehair at left guard (he was second).

    While the Bears have sunk resources into the interior line positions in order to keep the pocket clean in front of the quarterback, they have neglected the tackle position and its caused a serious problem, especially in the run game. Both Charles Leno on the left and Bobby Massie on the right need to be replaced. Each will carry a cap hit if released and the Bears have no cap space and limited draft picks to use to replace them with.

    Football games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage. The Bears offense will continue to struggle until they do something to strengthen the offensive line.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Saints 1/10/21


  • The Bears were occasionally packing the box whenever they thought Alvin Kamara was going to run. I don’t think they had much choice, really, and they couldn’t afford to do it too often. And frankly, it didn’t help that much. The New Orleans offensive line is very good and did a good job.
  • Some really bad tackling out there. Admittedly many of the Saints players are pretty good at making defensive players look pretty miserable. All the more reason to emphasize the fundamentals.
  • Tony Romo pounded away on this but its something I’ve noticed the second half of the season. The Bears have flat out stopped playing man-to-man coverage. I’m guessing they’re trying to generate turnovers. But they’re struggling to cover with it. It just wasn’t going to work against the Saints. Or anyone else who is any good.
  • Manti Te’o is mobile enough but he’s not very physical to me. I thought the Saints came out and picked on him in the second half. Credit to him for being a high effort guy, though.
  • The Bears had this weird lineup I’ve never seen them do before. They had all three defensive aligned to the right of the center – to the same side Kamara was on in the backfield. They ran a stunt off of it to rush Brees on the play. Perhaps a little creativity from defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
  • I thought Tashaun Gipson had a really good game today. He was really aggressive and quick to the ball.
  • Truth be told what I said about Gipson really goes for the whole defense. I thought they all looked more lively and were faster to the ball today. I was glad to see it. I felt like they’d been missing it for most of the last half of the season.
  • Also kudos for getting pressure on Drew Brees. They did a surprisingly good job of this against a very good offensive line.


  • Mitch Trubisky was right on target with his passes today. About as good as he’s ever been. Kudos to him.
  • I thought the offensive line did a reasonably good job of protecting Trubisky as well. They held up even when the Saints brought pressure.
  • Unfortunately they had a tougher time making hay in the running game against a highly rated Saints defense. Not a surprise but if the Bears can’t run the ball, they aren’t going to be able to do much on offense.
  • I love the way David Montgomery runs. Just maximum effort on every play.
  • The Saints did a really good job of stopping those naked boots that Trubisky has made a living on. You knew a good defense was going to do that.


  • Matt Nagy decided to go for it on 4th and 4 from roughly the Saints 35 yard line in the first quarter. I really thought with Cairo Santos being as hot as he is, I would have kicked it. It was still early and they needed to get on the board.
  • How in the world did Javon Wims drop that touchdown in the end zone in the first quarter?
  • I lost count of the number of pre-snap penalties in this game but it was too many on both sides.
  • Anthony Miller’s ejection was inexcusable. Plain and simple.
  • 4th and 2 from the Bears 12 yard line with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Eddie Jackson jumps off-sides. The Saints eventually scored a touchdown to make it 14-3. Awful.
  • Duke Shelley appeared to have an interception in the second quarter but the call was reversed. I thought the refs did the right thing.
  • John Jenkins got an interception (the called it a fumble) on a tip ball by Tashaun Gipson in the second quarter. It was a huge play as the Bears were really doing nothing and things were looking grim at 7-0. After Cole Kmet got a stupid unsportsman-like conduct penalty that cost the team 15 yards, the Bears settled for a field goal. But at least they got on the board.
  • Well, it wasn’t like this was unexpected. The Bears got beat by a better team.

    A very shorthanded defense played better than I expected for most of the game. I thought we finally saw a little bit of the team that we saw at the beginning of the year. Generally speaking they were fast to the ball and played with a little fire. It was nice to see.

    But what really stuck with me was the way that the Saints solved the Bears offense. It confirmed what I have thought for weeks. Head coach Matt Nagy was forced to simplify his offense for Mitch Trubisky for the third year in a row and when they finally ran up against a good defense, they had it covered. The movement in the offense, the naked boots that cut the field in half, none of it worked.

    I give Trubisky credit. He really threw the ball reasonably well today. But his arm is connected to his head and his head just isn’t there.

    The Bears face an off-season with a lot of holes and with very few resources to fill them. The defense is aging and needs an injection of youth. The offensive line needs a make over. They need better receivers and they need more dynamic play makers. But, as usual, no need is greater than the one at quarterback.

Quick Game Comments: Packers at Bears


  • The key to this game for the Bears offense was what it should always be. Run the ball successfully. The Packers weren’t packing the box with players to stop it early on. That isn’t really surprising. It isn’t Green Bay defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s style. They definitely were concentrating on stopping it, though.
  • I thought the Green Bay defense came out a little flat. They were just a step slow and maybe not all there mentally. I’m surprised. There was a lot for them to play for. Someone woke them up because they picked it up after the first series.
  • Trubisky was wild and high on his passes early. I thought he got better as the game progressed but he was never what you’d call accurate. At 5.8 yards per pass, he will have to go down field more in the playoffs if the Bears expect to make a run.
  • The Packers had the Bears in very tight coverage most of the game. First possession aside, they were very quick tot he ball and swarmed the receiver allowing very little yards after the catch. I think this is how Chuck Pagano envisioned the Bears defense playing today. It didn’t work that way.
  • Trubisky tried hard to throw another red zone interception. Kevin King dropped it in the end zone with 6 seconds left in the first half. The Bears kicked a field goal.
  • Darnell Mooney had a good game today and was a bigger part of the game plan than was Allen Robinson, who the Packers shut down.


  • The Bears came out playing a lot of zone. It seemed that the plan was to pressure Rodgers with the front four, tackle well and limit the yards after the catch. There were still some bad missed tackles that gave the Packers a lot of critical yards.
  • The Bears definitely did crowd the line of scrimmage a little to concentrate on stopping the run, as well. They were very conscious of Aaron Jones. As well they should have been. They did a pretty good job of shutting it down.
  • Late in the game, the Packers lined Jones up as a receiver more often to set him up in a mismatch. He made some nice plays. It was a nice adjustment.
  • First quarter and the Packers have 4th and 3 deep in Bears territory on their first possession. The Packers put Devante Adams in the slot on Duke Shelly. Shelly can’t give him room because he has to defense the line to gain. Adams blows by him and draws a pass interference call. Nice play call there. The Packers picked on Shelly all day. Marquez Valdez-Scantling beat Shelley at the beginning of the second half for a deep pass that would have been another touchdown had he not dropped it.
  • As nice of a receiver as Allen Robinson is, the play immediately above is one that you simply can’t run with him. He’s not that kind of explosive player. That might explain why the Bears aren’t offering him what he wants.
  • Somehow Valdez-Scantling ends up on Danny Trevathan midway through the second quarter. That, my friends, is a mismatch. Touch down. Another good play. Rodgers doesn’t miss anything.
  • Similar to the first match up, the Bears struggled to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers with their highly paid front four in the first half. That’s pretty much death most of the time when playing Green Bay. They did better in the second half.
  • The Bears had a couple of interceptions that they dropped today (Eddie Jackson and Kindle Vildor). Had those been caught it could have been the difference in the game.


    • Cordarrelle Patterson made a good play on the opening kickoff, stepping out of bounds while touching the ball down. The Bears got the ball on the 40 yard line.
    • Cairo Santos had a good day kicking three field goals. But that was more of a negative as it was a positive. The Bears failed to score touchdowns in the red zone this game and that made it very difficult to keep up with the Packers offense.
  • The Bears did an exceptional job of limiting penalties with only 1. It was the pass interference penalty on Shelley mentioned above and it saved a touchdown. SO nice work there.
    • Demetrious Harris forced a fumble on a Bears punt in the first quarter. It gave the Bears the ball on the Green Bay 20 yard line. The Bears settled for a field goal.
    • I’ve noticed that sometimes Cole Kmet can have a little bit of a tough time hanging on to the ball. He turned it over in a bad spot this game, giving the ball to the packers at the Bears 22 yard line in the second quarter. Just like that it was 21-10. The Bears simply can’t afford those kinds of mistakes against good teams.
    • Trubisky threw an interception with 3 minutes left in the game with the score at 28-16. It was a bad decision but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt by saying that at that point you are just doing everything you can to make a play.
  • There’s little doubt that the turning point in this game was a long, sustained drive that the Bears had that ate up half of the fourth quarter. They went for it on fourth and one twice and made it but failed on a third attempt. They came away with no points. The game felt over at that point.
  • Well, it wasn’t a blow out until the end. That’s the best you could say about this one. But it is evident that the Bears aren’t in the same class with the best teams in this league as this one really never felt like the Packers weren’t in control. The one difference between the teams (other than the quarterback) is the lack of explosive play makers on the Bears. Darnell Mooney was the only Bears player on the field to compare with what the Packers had out on the field.

    The Bears will likely have a chance to prove me wrong at least once more as they will back into the playoffs with the Arizona Cardinals down big to the LA Rams late in their game as of this writing. But this team doesn’t appear to me to be competitive for a championship and that means they aren’t where the front office expected them to be at this point. Ownership will have some interesting decisions to make this offseason.