The everlasting debate of “who’s to be given credit” in the relationship between a quarterback and head coach will likely never be solved, though we might be able to quantify it with more accuracy post-2019.
Plenty of sticking points have been discussed between the Los Angeles Rams’ duo of Head Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff. Dividing the credit between the two is nearly impossible, and to be fair, it doesn’t really matter... unless you’re the Rams. With Goff nearing the end of his contract, the Rams will have a tough (not really) decision to make entailing whether they’re ready to break the bank for #16 or take their chances with a cheaper solution at quarterback.... though there shouldn’t be much to discuss. Goff propelled the Rams to a Super Bowl appearance. He’s been to multiple pro bowls. He’ll likely be the statistical leader in every major quarterback statistic in Rams history when it’s all said and done.
But, the question remains, who’s responsible for what?
Goff started his career off with a shaky rookie season under Head Coach Jeff Fisher and his outcast of offensive coordinators who were clearly in over their heads. Upon the hiring of McVay and his new regime/staff, Goff immediately pulled one of the biggest 180’s we’ve seen in an NFL player as he simultaneously became an upper-echelon quarterback, regardless of how much of the onus fell on his head coach.
Fast forward to this day, the Rams are firmly invested and entrenched in Goff as the franchise quarterback, and they should be. Winning in the NFL is hard, winning consistently is even harder, and nearly winning everything is another notch up. The Rams were able to accomplish all three in the short marriage between McVay and Goff.
With Goff being the unquestioned starter, the Rams turned their focus on the backup quarterback spot after former backup QB Sean Mannion showed no traits of development during his rookie contract. So the Rams went out and added one of the bigger enigma’s in the NFL in QB Blake Bortles. Bortles is a former top-3 draft pick who’s had statistical success in the league, brought his team within plays of a Super Bowl appearance, though he’s also had visible shades of awful quarterback play.
Now that McVay becomes married to another quarterback in Bortles, we can better quantify his actual impact on the quarterback position. Bortles wont receive any meaningful playing time barring any catastrophic injury to Goff, so the sample size will likely be minimal and limited to preseason snaps/late fourth quarter blowout snaps. The intrigue remains though. If McVay can uncover a more stable Bortles who could potentially take a step forward with his development, is he to be given more credit? McVay has had success with multiple quarterbacks, stemming from Kirk Cousins in Washington to Goff in Los Angeles, proving it isn’t inconceivable that McVay could turn Bortles back into the potential franchise quarterback people once thought he was.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Head Coach Doug Pederson was able to demonstrate similar principles and qualities with starting QB Carson Wentz’s lengthy injury history. Wentz has missed eight regular season games (and both postseasons) in the past two years. Instead of tossing in the towel and preparing for the next season, Pederson and his staff rallied around backup QB Nick Foles and achieved the unthinkable: a Super Bowl victory. Not only that, but the team played so well with Foles at quarterback, people actually started to question whether the Eagles would have been better off moving Wentz and retaining Foles’ services. The scenario played out in an opposite manner, but the point remains: Pederson and his staff were capable of building a system and offense(s) in which his quarterbacks could not only succeed in, but thrive in.
Hopefully McVay wont need to do the same because history suggests Goff will be able to stay healthy, though McVay’s minor track record suggests he could very well improve quarterback play substantially. And if that’s the case as it seems, then the Rams and Jared Goff will remain in good hands so long as Sean McVay is the head coach.