What a difference a year can make.
Last year around this time, we were fretting about whether the Los Angeles Rams had made a franchise-crippling mistake by trading up in the draft to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
All we had seen was Goff’s historically atrocious rookie campaign which was admittedly made worse by a complete lack of protection, weapons, or modern schemes.
Sure the table was set for failure, but still Goff threw plenty of awful passes too, so it was hard to tell what was what. All the while, fellow rookies Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz and Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott enjoyed early success that only added pressure to the whole Goff situation at least to us observers on the outside.
One year, 28 touchdown passes, and a Pro Bowl alternate selection later, our blood pressure is now safely back to normal. The Rams surrounded Goff with a new cast in HC Sean McVay, LT Andrew Whitworth, WR Robert Woods and WR Cooper Kupp among others, and their former #1 pick actually looked like, well, a capable NFL quarterback.
In a side note, the Rams other quarterback from 2016, Case Keenum, found similar success after escaping to Minnesota in 2017.
We now know that at very least, Goff is good enough to win when surrounded by capable coaches and talent.
But will he take yet another step this season?
Can Goff join the rather short list of real difference makers that currently play quarterback in the league, guys like: New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, New Orleans QB Drew Brees, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, and perhaps Wentz and Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford? Those are the only quarterbacks ranked ahead of Goff in Bleacher Report’s annual NFL1000 rankings, a truly remarkable leap following Goff’s rookie season.
Speculation would lead one to believe that yes, Goff should continue to improve. Barring any major drop off in performance by the offensive line, Goff should have improved poise and command of McVay’s offense this time around. Last year, while the Rams offense proved to be incredibly explosive, Goff was asked to employ the somewhat conservative approach of simply taking what was there, and otherwise unloading the ball. Because that approach was so successful, the Rams aren’t likely to stray too far from it moving forward, but expect Goff to be more of a field general this season, and try to squeeze a few more precision passes between defenders this season.
One more thing that deserves mention is what a tough guy Goff is.
He doesn’t resemble an unshaven Paul Bunyan like Carson Wentz. He appears somewhat frail compared to more massive quarterbacks like Roethlisberger or Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton.
However, Goff went through a rookie season that would have broken weaker souls. He also crawled through some tough times at Cal to resuscitate that program. The kid put up with being a punch line throughout the entire offseason last season and continued to work.
He is exactly the type of guy you’d want to lead a football team.
Also, the Rams have a backup named Sean Mannion who seems okay-as a backup and/or a human somewhere on this earth.
Goff won’t be pushed by Mannion.
Mannion shouldn’t be pushed by Brandon Allen or Luis Perez.
Not much of a battle going on with the quarterbacks.
Goff should take another step forward to justify an eventual lucrative extension. He appears to have great rapport with agent-mate Brandin Cooks, and is building an air of confidence about him. If he does take that next step he will start to become the face that the Rams will need to fill the suites in their new Inglewood palace come 2020, along with Todd Gurley.
At that point, one thing remains-an adequate nickname must be coined. As a reggae fan, I always felt that King Gofftafari (spelled Gofftafar-I) rolled off the tongue, but also enjoy the Goffinator. Hard to imagine either of those options catching on though, so we’ll see what emerges.
Impact on Final Roster
The Rams will carry two quarterbacks and Hekker. Impact, minimal.