His name was Jon Kitna. It was 2008. And Detroit went 0-16 that season.
As Detroit enters Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (1 p.m., ET, Fox), the Lions are 0-8 in games not started by Stafford, dating back to the 2011 season.
But Goff, who is entering a new role in Motown, says he’s not worried about the past.
“Just focus on myself,” Goff said of following Stafford’s footsteps. “He had a tremendous career here and has done a great job throughout his career, but focus on myself. Do the best I can every day and get better. Usually that ends up working out.”
Goff’s 42 wins as a starter over the past four seasons are tied for second in the NFL behind Tom Brady’s 47, according to ESPN Stats & Information, though he ranks only 25th among qualified quarterbacks in Total QBR in that span.
He hopes some of that previous success can rub off on a franchise that hasn’t won a divisional title since 1993.
“That’s a team stat. It’s something I’m proud of, but I’ve been fortunate to play on some good teams and have been a part of that,” Goff said. “But, at the same time, yeah there is a knack to it. There is a knowing situational ball, just being aware of where to go with the football and all that stuff plays into it, but, yeah, hopefully as time goes on, we can bring that here and hopefully it happens fast.”
First-year Lions coach Dan Campbell was a tight end on that 2008 squad. As was ESPN football analyst Dan Orlovsky, who started seven games at quarterback during that dreadful season.
They’re aware of the narrative surrounding the new-look Lions team, but Campbell sees the 49ers game as an opportunity that possibly "springboards you into the rest of the season."
“Jared has accomplished a lot in the NFL and I think that he’s very much encouraged by the fresh start, but the Lions need to rebuild their roster again and they have a lot of flaws, especially on the defensive side of the football,” Orlovsky said during an April conference call.
Few outside the Lions organization expect the team to be very good this season.
In fact, ESPN’s NFL Power Index, which measures team strength through advanced metrics, gives the Lions a 7.8% chance of reaching the postseason.
“I’m not 100% sold on Jared Goff, but what I’m optimistic about is seeing Jared Goff operate outside of (Los Angeles Rams coach) Sean McVay,” ESPN NFL analyst Marcus Spears said on Tuesday. “And seeing if he can lead a football [team]. His identity in Los Angeles was that he’s a part of this great system, this great offense. He benefits from that. He was taken highly and I’m on record saying I don’t trust Jared Goff when things get bad, and this will be his opportunity to lead from the front and legitimately have a franchise that’s his, and I’m interested to see how he takes advantage of that.”
Goff nearly broke character when he was asked -- again -- about the outside expectations for the team ahead of Wednesday’s practice. He claims he doesn’t care how the outside world views the Lions.
Goff has an opportunity to become the first Lions quarterback since Shaun Hill in Week 17 of the 2010 season to win a game not started by Stafford. Flipping the script for the franchise is all he’s concerned about.
“I don’t want to swear here, but we don’t care at -- we don’t give an anything but what anyone says. It’s the internal expectations that we’ve always had and those will remain the same,” Goff said.