Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes was the director of college scouting for the Los Angeles Rams in 2016 when the Rams selected quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick.
Holmes had a front-row seat to Goff's maturation as an NFL quarterback. From being labeled a bust as a rookie starter in 2016, to being named to back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018 and taking the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2018, to the Rams ultimately losing confidence in Goff and deciding to move on after last season.
One of the first things Holmes had to navigate after taking the Lions GM job was veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford seeking a trade. Holmes had multiple offers from teams, but was able to get the best haul from the Rams that included first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, and Goff.
The outside narrative is that Goff could be a stop-gap in Detroit. He has four years left on his contract, but it's structured in a way where it's realistic Detroit could move on from it in a couple years. But that's not how Holmes is viewing it.
"He's been successful. He has a lot of wins. He's been to the playoffs," Holmes told detroitlions.com. "I don't know why he doesn't have a chance to be successful. There's nothing wrong with winning.
"The outside narrative has been like, 'Oh, you got the guy for two years to bridge and then that's it.' Ok, I can name you some stop-gaps. I wouldn't say (Goff is one).
"Before the trade, I remember (Rams GM) Les (Snead) asked me if I wanted Jared and I said, 'Yes, I do want Jared.' He said, 'Ok, I'm just asking because I'm getting a lot of calls.' Within that QB circle of teams that needed one, Jared was sought after, just as Carson Wentz was sought after, just as Sam Darnold was sought after. That Stafford (was sought after).
"I never viewed (Goff) as a bridge option. He's been a winning quarterback. His resume speaks for itself. Since he's been a full-time starter he's not been to the playoffs one time (2019)."
Los Angeles moved on from Goff, despite him leading them back to the playoffs in 2020, losing to the Packers in the divisional playoffs. Goff completed 77.7 percent of his passes (21-for-27) with a touchdown and a 105.9 rating while playing through injury.
The Rams traded for Stafford in the hope that the veteran can guide them back to the Super Bowl and win it. Goff comes to Detroit with a chance at a fresh start, and Holmes has noticed a change in Goff after being afforded that opportunity.
"Talking with him now you can kind of feel like the breath of fresh air," Holmes said. "You always say it like, 'Aw, he just needs a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air.' It's easy to write that down or say it, but you can actually feel it as you're talking with him.
"I think it all stemmed from that first conversation (head coach) Dan (Campbell) and I had with him when he came up for his physical. We might have been in there talking for more than an hour about just everything that went down in LA, the freedom he was given, the ownership he was given and not given and then Dan just letting him know, 'look man, this is your offense.'
"Just basically giving him the ownership like, 'look, this is your thing, run it how you want to run it. If you don't like something, say you don't like something.' You kind of felt him just getting excited about that stuff."
Goff, 26, said this offseason he's enjoyed the ownership Holmes, Campbell and new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn have given him to help tailor the scheme to his strengths.
Goff's admitted to having a chip on his shoulder after being traded. He wants to prove there's a lot of good football still in him, and he can be an elite signal caller in this league.
"I know the kid inside and out, his family and everything, just all the work we did when he came out (of Cal)," Holmes said. "But the last two years, me not being in LA all the time while still living in Atlanta, I did not know every minute detail. Some of the stuff was kind of surprising. I think he's in a really good place right now and every single time the guy has had a chip on his shoulder he ends up answering the bell."
It happened when Goff came out of high school going into the University of California. He turned a 1-11 Cal program into a Bowl team. In 2016, he was thrown into the fire as a rookie on a bad Rams team and was labeled a bust going 0-7 as a first-year starter. He ditched the bust talk and guided the Rams to the playoffs in three of the next four seasons, while compiling a 42-27 record as a starter.
"He got a bad rap (in LA). He did," Holmes said of Goff. "I didn't think it was always fair, but everyone has their own opinion about that.
"But, end of the day, he's in a great place right now. He's got the chip on his shoulder, but it's very subtle, because he's so calm and collective and even keel, which I always thought elevated his game.
"That's always been a plus for him. He isn't walking around like, 'I'm pissed off and angry,' but you can kind of tell with some of the things he says and his mannerisms like, 'Ok, he's at that point.'"
Holmes is expecting Goff to answer the bell again in Detroit and play good football with the opportunity to take ownership of the Lions' offense.