Los Angeles Rams rookie franchise QB Jared Goff will finally make his NFL debut this weekend in the Rams’ Week 11 home clash with the Miami Dolphins.
So with the Dolphins bringing the #9 defense in passing yards per game along with the #30 rushing defense in yards allowed per, what are Rams fans’ expectations for Goff’s NFL debut with Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher in charge?
Of the four, this is probably my least likely options. It has nothing to do with Goff, either.
Goff’s likely going to face a similar defensive approach than what has been thrown at the Rams for much of the year: an intial gameplan focused on shutting down Rams RB Todd Gurley followed by adjustments to keep the entire Rams offense limited to working in 5-yard chunks or so at best. Given how we’ve seen the Rams deal with this in 2016, I’m hesitant to think they let Goff come out and just rip into the game in his first NFL start, especially early on.
Any NFL rookie is going to face some kind of adversity in their debut. Coupled with the limited offense and relatively stifling pass defense, the odds are stacked against him having a huge day in the air.
It depends a bit where you put the threshold between “Ok” and “Bad”, but the probable outcome is somewhere in here. A couple of factors to consider:
- Will the Dolphins stack up a lead going into halftime? We haven’t seen the Rams’ defense struggle since the loss to the Detroit Lions back in Week 6. They’re coming due for an imperfect showing. If that comes in the first 30 minutes, the pressure on Goff to elevate the offense won’t be a welcome forced hand.
- Do the Rams let Goff loose at any time early? Does he uncork one down the sideline? If so, that at least suggests they’re going to let him take his lumps. If, though, it’s the old Pat Shurmur type dink-and-dunk, pad-and-plod approach to get him comfortable and avoid costly mistakes, they’re likely to keep him bottled up at least in his debut.
- Who do the Rams try to steer Goff toward? QB Case Keenum clearly developed an on-field chemistry with WR Kenny Britt. Does Goff strike up something similar with Britt, WR Tavon Austin, WR Brian Quick, WR Pharoh Cooper or either tight end, Lance Kendricks or Tyler Higbee?
- How does Goff respond to adversity? Whether it’s an interception or a misplaced pass or dealing poorly with pressure or a drop from a passing target, how does he respond? The system limits opportunities in the first place, so he should be able to find a groove in the short game. But if he gets aggressive or is overly confident, how does he come back? And good lord, if he fumbles...
Maybe a fair way to characterize “OK” is if one of those questions will get answered with a less than enjoyable answer. “Bad” then would perhaps be two unsavory answers, leaving...
Case Keenum’s stranglehold on the starting gig from the end of the 2015 season through the offseason and prep season of training camp and the preseason was largely down to his sureheadedness in Fisherball. His command of the playbook. His imperturbable approach. Yes, his physical abilities limited what the Rams could do with him at the helm, but no doubt he contributed individually to some poor showings.
Week 1 at San Francisco: 17/35, 130 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs. A 0-28 hammering at the hands of the now 1-8 49ers.
Week 5 against Buffalo: 21/31, 271 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs. Feckless in the 19-30 home loss to the Bills that kickstarted the four-game slide.
Week 7 in London against the Giants: 32/53, 291 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs. A ridiculous gameplan supposedly borne out because New York was stacked against the run, something that made Keenum’s output seem even worse.
Week 10 at the Jets: 17/30, 165 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. A limp offensive showing that turned Johnny Hekker, a punter, into the star performer.
Should Goff put up something anywhere in that range, how will Rams fans react?
Fisherball has churned up Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, Nick Foles and now Case Keenum.
If Jared Goff is going to avoid a similar fate for however long he’s going to be overseen by Fisher, it’s going to be a process. Rams fans would be wise not to overreact to Sunday...
Especially if it falls into one of the latter categories instead of the early hopefuls.