While the effort to grade the pick is, if we're being sincere, premature, the pick doesn't exist in a vacuum. It was only made possible due to the previous attempts to solidify the position in recent years. And if we're being blunt, it was also made possible because those effort failed. Entirely.
Most relevant are the decisions of a year ago. With Sam Bradford having re-injured his ACL and the Rams left with a duo of free agent-aimed Shaun Hill and Austin Davis, Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead opted to completely overhaul the position with three new options.
All three failed, the result of which led the Rams directly to the trade that helped them acquire Goff.
Foles was the big ticket at the position heading into 2015. The trade that kicked off free agency between the Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles dominated the headlines of the early offseason. Sam Bradford was headed to Chip Kelly's Eagles and the Rams had added some draft capital for 2016 to help build out a new offense with Foles at the helm.
The Rams Select QB Jared Goff
The Rams Select QB Jared Goff
The early returns weren't horrible. The Rams low-powered offense sputtered to gain yards in any significant way, but Foles capitalized on Todd Gurley's coming out party against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4 with a three-touchdown performance without an interception that ratified the Fisherball blueprint for success.
It was also the last we'd see of the successful blueprint with Foles. In the next seven games, Foles would throw a combined two touchdowns and nine interceptions averaging just more than 150 yards per game.
That is unquestionably horrible.
Now there's plenty to ask between how much was on Foles and how much was on Fisherball (and we'll be asking that in the post-draft dark season, please believe), but there's no question it wasn't working. At all.
By the time the Rams decided to bench Foles in favor of Case Keenum after Week 10, they were 4-6 and sputtering. The decision to bench Foles wouldn't stem the sputtering in the least.
The Foles-Bradford trade completely overshadowed the Rams decision to send a 2016 NFL Draft seventh-round pick to the Houston Texans for Case Keenum. The trade, at the time, was seen as a reasonable one to bring in a solid backup to Foles. Here's what TST's Sean Wilkinson said in our 2015 season preview for Keenum:
If he's on the 53-man roster and is starting, the Rams have some serious issues. I want him wearing that ballcap and holding that clipboard. Nothing else.
By mid-November, Keenum was on the 53-man roster and starting. They had serious issues. Remember, this was the same Case Keenum that was unable to beat out Austin Davis to make the 2014 roster who had now come back and replaced Davis and then supplanted Foles atop the depth chart. That alone makes no sense.
But that's where the Rams were. They responded with an absolute hellscape of a football game against the Baltimore Ravens that should have prompted Congressional action to formally remove from American history. Keenum (who again had been promoted to the starting position as Jeff Fisher's solution to improve the offense) finished the first half with 31 passing yards. He would finish the game by fumbling away a potential game-winning drive by trying to play through a concussion that everyone but Fisher saw. In the game recap, here's how I summed things up:
It's not enough to say the Rams' offense is pathetic. It's more than that.
It's the incapability of the offensive mishmash on the depth chart. It's the irresponsibility of the coaching staff. It's the apathy of the media that should at least get more of an answer out of those players and coaches.
It's top to bottom unsuccessful. It's not one person. It's not one factor. It's the comprhensive failure of everyone involved.
The Rams would return to Foles as Keenum underwent concussion protocols to lose two more games; Keenum returned to see the Rams win three of their four final games to give the season an unwarranted air of promise. After Foles final start in the Week 13 home loss to the Cardinals dropping the Rams to 4-8, Fisher fired Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr. Todd Gurley had been ground into fine dust by the surrounding failparts.
Fisherball had exhausted all of its components leaving a charred horizon behind it as it headed west.
Forgot him? That's understandable. The Rams spent their 2015 NFL Draft third-round pick on Mannion and then allowed him to soak up the tutelage of Fisherball watching the league's worst offense. Snead would, amazingly for a braintrust that rarely accepts any responsibility for any failures, accept responsibility for entirely mismanaging the process described in the above 750 words:
If I learned one thing last year we should have let the quarterbacks have a competition from the start and the best man win instead of just passing the torch to Nick [Foles]
The Rams wasted draft capital, time and effort on the QB position in 2015. Everything they did was wrong. They failed at every point en route to the league's 32nd-ranked offense in yardage gained.
It was those failures that led them to taking Goff. It is those failures that they're now placing squarely on Goff's shoulders to rectify.
It's a ridiculous golden brick road to get to where they're at. Only Goff will be able to lead them out, for better or for worse. And if he does, it will be partly because the Rams dug themselves into such a spectacular hole that they had to launch a moonshot to get them out of their own professional graves.