The hype and expectations surrounding the Los Angeles Rams and starting quarterback Jared Goff in 2018 is pretty amazing considering where things were just a year ago.
Goff was the #1 overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and is now considered a sleeper candidate for MVP in the 2018 season. During a sit-down interview held Monday, July 9th, by Thuzio Executive Club, the young QB discussed his road to the NFL and how he’s able to persevere when things go badly.
Jared Goff’s path to the NFL started at the Elite 11, a competition for high school quarterbacks. He finished top seven out of 25 but failed to win the MVP award for the competition. Goff was undeterred, taking that failure and turning it into an MVP award at the All-Nike Camp just two days later.
Those performances alone didn’t translate into a flood of college interest, and so Goff wasn’t sure football would be the path he would take. He played football, baseball and basketball in high school, maximizing his chances for an athletic scholarship:
I knew it wasn’t going to be basketball. I’m a 6’2” white guy, and I can’t shoot. It wasn’t going to be basketball.
The scholarship offers eventually came. Four offers were made, but he ultimately chose UC Berkeley, his parents’ alma mater.
In his freshman year with the California Golden Bears, Goff was named the starter after a four-way roster battle, the first true freshman starter to start for the season opener in the school’s history. While it was a record-setting season for Goff, the final win-loss record didn’t reflect it. He finished his freshman season with a 1–11 record and a separated shoulder in his throwing arm from the final game against Stanford. ILB Shayne Skov had broken through the O-line, forcing Goff to scramble:
I remember vividly. He’s about to hit me, and I can either throw the ball and dive a little bit or I’m just gonna, like, eat this. And I remember thinking, ‘it’s the last game of the season so I’m just gonna eat it.’
The hit caused a Grade 1 separation, but Goff chose to go back in. Two series later, a second hit caused him to fall on to the already injured arm, worsening the separation to a Grade 3:
Funny story about that pass. I threw the pass, he catches it, he goes like 60 yards. Ended up breaking the single-season record for yardage on that last play. It was the end of the season, whatever. I had four months to recover.
The shoulder would require surgery, but that was ok with Goff though. And recover he would. Not even the team’s dismal record during his freshman season was enough to keep him down:
If I throw an interception or do something bad, I literally don’t even think about it again. And I try to treat throwing a touchdown or a good play the same way because I think that’s the best way to play quarterback.
Goff was the starter again his sophomore and junior seasons at Cal, and each year he improved on the previous year’s record. He finished No. 2 in passing efficiency in the school’s history, second only to former Cal QB and now Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, whom you may have heard of.
But even with his growing success and likely impending selection as the number one or number two overall draft pick, he remained grounded.
“There’s a story about you that goes something like this,” the moderator, Yogi Roth, recalled, “You’re walking on the college campus at Cal. You’re about to be an extremely high draft pick, and a random passer-by comes up to you and says ‘OH MY GOD! You’re Jared Goff! You’re the quarterback, right?’ And the story goes,” the moderator continued, “that you said, ‘Nah, I’m just a student here at Cal.’ and that individual was a scout in the National Football League.”
Goff admitted that the celebrity of it all was something he wasn’t prepared for, and at the time he just wanted to be left alone. He admits he’s gotten better over time, but it was definitely overwhelming at first.
As we all know, Goff went #1 overall in early 2016 taken by the newly-relocated Los Angeles Rams. After backing up starter QB Case Keenum for nine games, Goff was promoted to starter in the November game against the Miami Dolphins. To say that he struggled would be an understatement. Seven games and a Head Coach firing later, he’d finish the season 0–7.
But just like with his freshman season at Cal, Goff didn’t let that deter him. He took those struggles, paired it with newly-minted Head Coach Sean McVay’s “Newer, faster, crazier offense” and put out an 11–5 season that ended in a playoff run, 3,804 passing yards, and 28 touchdowns. And now, fans are expecting an encore.
As I said in the opening, there are huge expectations on the Rams and Jared Goff for 2018.
Coming into this year, we need to treat it just like we were bad last year. If we don’t, you see it happen all the time, where teams come in with that buzz and then fall flat.
Goff’s ability to ignore failures and successes and focusing on the now will serve him well during this season. If he has a bad game, or if this season doesn’t go as planned, don’t expect it to take down Jared Goff.
He’ll use it as fuel to propel him to even greater heights.