Around the time the Los Angeles Rams left Anaheim, California in the early 90s, I went with a group of high school friends to see some crappy ska band at an all-ages club in Fullerton. One of the opening acts was a group called The Roundabouts — I didn’t care for the band that much, but the lead singer could sing. You didn’t have to like it, but you could tell he was going to be famous one way or the other. Years later, they got a record deal and changed their name to Kara’s Flowers and their album faded in obscurity. Years after that, that lead singer showed up again with a new band name: Maroon 5.
On Sunday, Adam Levine’s band, Maroon 5, will be headlining the Pepsi halftime show at Super Bowl LIII. A lot of football fans that I’ve talked to think Maroon 5 kind of sucks.
When I first saw QB Jared Goff play for the Cal Bears, I had that same feeling. This kid was going to be great if he stopped getting his ass handed to him.
A bit similar to the ascension of Adam Levine, there is a lot of shrugging when it comes to Jared Goff’s ability to win a championship against a team like the New England Patriots. Is Goff too soft? Are his hands too small? Does he get rattled when the protection breaks down?
These questions, while legit, are damaging for an NFL quarterback because they question his toughness. And in the NFL, that’s kind of part of what makes a NFL QB great — guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees are painted as a sort of antiquated super solider that doesn’t get bothered by adversity. Guys like Joey Harrington (remember him?) reinforced this idea when his career went south — the dude played the piano and had feelings; he was doomed before his career began.
The head coach of the Patriots, Bill Belichick, succeeds when he’s able to identify a flaw with his opposition and then he exploits it like the savant he is. I believe that the Patriots are going to spend a lot of focus on making Goff uncomfortable. And if you watch the tape on the 2018 Rams, especially his games at the end of the season, it makes sense to pick on Goff.
However, the dude can throw the ball. And just like Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Goff has many that cast doubt on his greatness in the long term. After several albums were released by Maroon 5, the knock on them was that they were an extended flash in the pan with a handful of modest hits that most men hated.
Then, a funny thing happened... they leaned into it and evolved with the times, became less of a traditional rock band, embraced their fan base's tastes, and became famous enough to play the Super Bowl.
In the NFC Championship vs. the New Orleans Saints, Goff also evolved into a dependable star player in an environment that exploited his “flaw.” In the first quarter, Goff was uncomfortable with the crowd noise and quite frankly, he looked shook or even worse: soft.
But as Goff haters crossed their arms and expected the Rams to lay down for the Saints, Jared Goff fought back. Was it silky smooth? No, Goff’s style is more akin to a drunk teenager trying to climb back into their second story room at two in the morning — he’ll get the job done, but it’s going to feature some major awkward spots.
If and when coach Belichick sends his complex blitz packages Jared Goff’s way forcing him to pass, one thing will become clear. A fact that has been clear the first time young Jared Goff suited up to play QB — the kid can throw.
I wouldn’t bet against Jared Goff. Not because he’s the starting quarterback of my favorite team. Underneath any supposed “flaws” in his game, Jared Goff has a greatness in him that supersedes anything else.
It’s easy to discount a player because they don’t check all the boxes. But an appearance in Super Bowl LIII and an impressive victory can quickly check as many boxes that need check marks. And beating a team as vaunted as the Patriots would give Goff and the Rams a title that has so far eluded them — perennial contenders.
This is the biggest game of Jared Goff’s life and the Patriots are going to do their best to make it his worst. But raw talent can’t be suppressed with a clever defensive scheme all game. Just like how Jared Goff found a way to fling the ball to TE Tyler Higbee late in the game against the Saints, Goff will find a way to make plays.
Jared Goff’s game may not be finished product, but it’s a damn good one.