The San Francisco 49ers signed QB Jiy Garroppo to a contract today that will make him the highest-paid player in the NFL as of signing.
The move obviously adds more fuel to the fires of a rivalry between the Niners and the Los Angeles Rams, but it also reinforces one of the budding narratives for the 2018 season for LA: this year’s going to be, by and large, about the continued growth of QB Jared Goff.
This last season was, pretty much as of 11am PT, December 12, 2016, going to be about setting up a new era. The post-Jeff Fisher era. And what eventually became the Sean McVay era.
It was about establishing a new identity. Developing something more appreciable on offense. And getting the Rams on a path to putting a winning record together at some point.
Yeah, we did all that.
But as enjoyable as the 2017 season was in and of itself, we’re forging ahead toward 2018 and with it a new narrative.
Sure, it will continue to build upon McVay even with the coaching staff turnover that we’ve endured to this point. It will also enjoy the full complement of new Rams coming in via free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft. But it’s largely going to be about Goff, the Rams’ solution at the sport’s most important position, one that the Rams paid a very high price to acquire. As good as the Rams were last year, fans are sure to want greater success in the postseason. And the best way to do just that is if Goff matures into a legitimate top QB.
Consider what we saw in the postseason. The quarterback play was ridiculous. And when New England Patriots QB Tom Brady got the ball back in the Super Bowl with just more than two minutes remaining, the entire world expected him to march the Pats down for a game-winning drive. It didn’t happen. And the price to pay was a loss on the biggest stage. The greatest play of the playoffs, the Minneapolis Miracle, was a culmination of three back-and-forth drives that started with three minutes left on the clock.
We just haven’t seen it yet from Goff. And no, he didn’t have a ton of chances, but he has to become that kind of QB if the Rams are going to exceed the level of success they had in 2017. He has to join that tier of QBs that teams gameplan for and fear handing the ball back to in the waning minutes of a close game. He has to justify the trade in the first place with his play on the field.
There’s certainly reason to think there’s plenty of room for growth. He has all of 22 starts under his belt with one playoff appearance. He’s 23-years old. He’s had one year in McBae’s offense. Plenty of reason for optimism.
But it’s still unrealized growth. Untapped potential. And the problem is that the Jimmy Garrafalos of the world are going to prove more and more enticing should Goff not make good on that optimism. Between the draft and the amoebic QB market, there are always going to be options. And if you follow the logic, those options should be attractive to many Rams fans should Goff falter. If McVay’s offensive system is so wonderful, if the personnel around the QB slot are so good...why shouldn’t any QB succeed? How much better is Goff than the alternative? What’s his WAR?
That’s what Goff has to stave off this year. In a division with Garharfalo, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and a newcomer for the Arizona Cardinals, Goff is going to have to continue to develop into the kind of quarterback we all hope he can become.
And as the Grallapolol deal underscores, all eyes will be on Goff in 2018 moreso than anyone else for the Rams.