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Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, and a Push for the Playoffs

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve made the decision that he’s capable of handling it, then go ahead and track him. But understand the expectations need to be very, very low.


That’s what ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Bill Polian had to say in regards to the Los Angeles Rams' utilization of (and expectations for) rookie quarterback Jared Goff in 2016. Polian clarifies by adding that Goff will be asked to do things he’s not done before -- like calling plays, manipulating defenses, and understanding protections.

He also adds that protecting their newest investment needs to be a top priority; noting the Rams can’t let him be "beaten up by blitzes" early on.

If the Rams choose to name Goff their Week 1 starter, allowing him to get roughed up by the opposition would certainly prove detrimental to the young QB, both from a physical and mental standpoint. And Polian is spot on. The Rams simply cannot allow that to happen.

Unacceptable protection, Exhibit A:


And it wasn’t just Nick Foles who sustained devastating blows like this one. It wasn’t all that long ago that another one of the Rams’ No. 1 overall picks, Sam Bradford, was picking turf from his helmet as he slowly got back to his feet...if he got back to his feet.

Despite the often shoddy offensive line play from the Rams in 2010, the year in which they drafted Bradford, he was still able to put together a Rookie of the Year campaign, and was a Week 17 win away from taking the team to the postseason.

As it was for Bradford, and despite Polian’s warning, expectations are going to be high for Goff in his first year. There are those that think Goff is already the early favorite to win the 2016 Rookie of the Year award, and that his performance could be the key to punching their ticket to the playoffs.

But what does being the first QB off the board/winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award look like statistically?

Over the past six years (dating back to Bradford’s selection) there have been four QB’s selected with the draft’s top pick:  Sam Bradford (2010), Cam Newton (2011), Andrew Luck (2012), and Jameis Winston (2015). Only the first two mentioned won Rookie of the Year honors. Robert Griffin III, who was selected 2nd overall in 2012, won the award that year.

Let’s have a look.

Player
Year
G
Cmp%
Yds
TD
INT
Wins
Rating
Sam Bradford
2010
16
60.0
3,512
18
15
7
76.5
Cam Newton
2011
16
60.0
4,051
21
17
6
84.5
Andrew Luck
2012
16
54.1
4,374
23
18
11
76.5
Robert Griffin III
2012
15
65.6
3,200
20
5
9
102.4
Jameis Winston
2015
16
58.3
4,042
22
15
6
84.2
Average


59.6
3,835
20.8
14
7.8
84.8


There are, of course, others such as Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill (2012), Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr (2014), and Marcus Mariota (2015), all of whom had solid rookie seasons, that deserve a mention here. That said, none a) were the draft’s top pick b) won ROTY honors, and c) while Bortles (drafted 3rd overall) and Mariota (2nd overall) were drafted high in the first round, they only started 13 and 12 games, respectively, in their rookie seasons. In case you contemplated going back further, Matthew Stafford, drafted first overall in 2009, played in only 10.

Interestingly enough, the average amount of wins for these top-drafted/ROTY quarterbacks, as noted above, is 7.8...right in the Rams’ wheelhouse. So it’s not as if there’s pressure for Goff (though there may be some for Jeff Fisher) to put the team on his back, drag them out of the cellar, and single-handedly right the ship.  

As ESPN’s Nick Wagoner notes, the Rams are putting Goff in a slightly different situation than some of his predecessors. The Rams had gone 1-15 prior to drafting Bradford. The Panthers, Colts, and Buccaneers had all won two games the year before taking their franchise quarterbacks. By taking the Draft’s top QB, all of the aforementioned teams improved by (at least) four games the following season.

It’s not as simple as that, obviously, but the Rams - assuming they’re able to get Goff up to speed, and do well in heeding Polian’s warning to protect him - find themselves in a solid position to become real contenders in the NFC, and it could very well be in the 2016 season.