Two of the four teams in the NFC North have hopped on the quarterback carousel this offseason. The Detroit Lions have traded longtime QB Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff. And the Chicago Bears released former No. 3-overall pick Mitchell Trubisky and signed veteran Andy Dalton. Both look like lateral moves, but both Goff and Dalton have had success against the Vikings in the past.
To acquire Goff, the Detroit Lions traded a 10-year veteran and team leader in Stafford, 2022 and 2023 first-round picks, and a compensatory third-round pick in 2021. Goff, 26, brings some much-needed youth and playoff experience to the Motor City. He has been to the Super Bowl and has also shown he can elevate offensive weapons. His top targets in 2018, when the Rams went to the Super Bowl, were Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp — second- and third-round picks, respectively.
Goff also isn’t immediately burdened with being a savior like Stafford was when drafted No. 1 overall in 2009. He finished tied for third in the league in interceptions and will bring that same gunslinger mentality to Detroit.
From the perspective of the Minnesota defense, this acquisition seems like a lateral move. Goff is younger, of course. But in terms of skill set, Goff and Stafford are near equals. Since L.A. drafted Goff in 2016, Stafford has put up 19,133 yards and 119 touchdowns. Goff has 18,171 yards and 107 touchdowns in that same span.
Goff has been inconsistent against the Vikings over his career. He threw for 225 yards and no touchdowns in 2017 and then went off for 465 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. However, the Vikings’ defense has been overhauled since then, including the signings of Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson this year.
The Goff acquisition gives Detroit peace of mind. Knowing that he could be their QB for the foreseeable future allows them to build around him. While Goff probably won’t light up the Minnesota defense as he did on Thursday night in 2018, he could become more dangerous if the Lions add weapons around him in the draft.
Conversely, the Bears have moved on from Trubisky, 26, and made Dalton, 33, their starter. They have made it clear that Nick Foles, 32, will be his backup heading into camp. Trubisky never posted a PFF grade over 66.4 in Chicago, and Dalton looks to be a bridge to a big free agent or rookie QB. The 10-year NFL veteran looks like an upgrade from Trubisky and could have a bounce-back season next year. The Vikings shouldn’t overlook how this signing could potentially impact them.
Dalton was the Cincinnati Bengals’ starter for 10 years before being signed as a backup by the Dallas Cowboys last season. He has a track record of success, leading Cincinnati to five straight playoff appearances from 2011-15. When the Bengals had a defense ranked in the top half of the league, they never finished under .500, and Chicago’s defense has been among the best in the NFL since 2017.
In his only three appearances against Minnesota, once with the Cowboys last year and twice with the Bengals, Dalton has gone 60-for-82 for 699 yards, seven TDs, and three INTs. Last year he went 22 of 32 for 203 yards in Dallas’s 31-28 win over the Vikings. His worst performance against Minnesota was in a 34-7 loss on Dec. 17, 2017, where he only threw for 113 yards and was picked off twice.
The Dalton signing doesn’t scream All-Pro or even Pro Bowl. He does bring a level of consistency, veteran presence, and playoff experience to the Bears, who haven’t made it past the Divisional Round since 2010. Chicago likely signed Dalton to be a bridge for a win-now team that probably will draft or trade for a younger QB soon. Dalton isn’t the quarterback he was early on in Cincinnati, but even a serviceable QB that can keep the Bears defense off the field will be an upgrade.
All told, these look like lateral moves with minimal upside. Minnesota went 3-1 against the Detroit and Chicago last year and should be able to sweep them this season.