The first quarter of the NFL season has passed with the Los Angeles Rams tied for second in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks at 3-1. The Rams started the season out with three straight wins, eventually dropping a game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which ultimately became a complete shootout between two offenses that had no intention of stopping.
The man in the middle of it all was the Rams’ signal caller and recently extended quarterback, Jared Goff. The Rams rewarded Goff with a $134m contract, $110m of which is guaranteed, a record for the most in NFL history. Goff has rightfully earned it, especially when draft-mate and fellow quarterback Carson Wentz was paid a similar amount by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now, fast forwarding through the first four weeks of the season, it’s fair to begin to evaluate how Goff has played since the big extension. Goff has led the Rams to a 3-1 record, completing 64.1% of his passes for 1,254 passing yards, six touchdowns, six interceptions, 12 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, and four fumbles. Obviously, Goff is on pace to set a career high in turnovers as he already has 10, putting him on pace for 40 on the season, and while that won’t happen, he’ll definitely need to take better care of the football.
Goff has certainly made some questionable decisions this year, particularly when missing a defender right in his passing lane and throwing an interception, which happened on two separate occasions. The most troubling might be his inability to eat a sack properly without fumbling, because Goff fumbled the ball 12 times in 2018 and already four times in four games in 2019, proving it’s becoming a troubling trend. Sacks happen, and they happen to every quarterback. Goff needs to be more aware of his surroundings in certain situations and simply tuck the ball away, because a sack is a bad play, though a sack-fumble is an even worse one.
It hasn’t been all bad for Goff though, as he’s shown life (particularly in week four) and his ability to sling passes hasn’t really wavered. The chemistry between Goff and the new offensive line is still building, and some of the blame surely has to land on the five guys upfront as they haven’t played anywhere near the ability of the offensive line in 2018. With Goff being as immobile as he is, the offensive line becomes paramount, simply due to his lack of mobility and increased production in the structure of a play. Though, even when the pocket has collapsed – as it has many times in the first four weeks – Goff has shown a newfound ability to navigate the trash around the pocket in a much more effective way than in years past.
Expectations are great for Jared Goff, and they should be with how much he was paid. That’s the simple reality of sports, and in particular, the quarterback position. Yet, not all blame can be placed on the signal caller (Goff in this case) as the offensive line has been less productive, the running game has been used much less and also less productive, and the receiving group has dropped more passes than in years past. It doesn’t give Goff a pass either, as he certainly does need to play better and shoulder more of the load, largely because the economics of the salary cap forces him to do so. Goff has been more inaccurate and out of rhythm than he ever looked in 2018, giving the Rams and Head Coach Sean McVay more than enough on his plate to workout.
The Rams would be wise to get Goff back into a position in which he is most comfortable in: under center with a strong rushing attack, coupled with an effective play action passing attack that can take advantage of misdirection on the defensive side of the ball. Plays of these structures have always led to the best results from Goff, leading to the question of “Why did/do the Rams go away from it?”.
The Rams are still sitting in a positive spot at 3-1, though we’ve yet to see the best of Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams’ offense. They’ll have plenty of time to work it out, and only the next 12 games will truly let us know whether they’ll overcome the issues that’ve plagued the offense through four weeks, or whether the NFL has caught up to what the Rams have been able to accomplish over the past two years.