So far this season, the Los Angeles Rams rank 16th in offensive DVOA through three weeks per Football Outsiders after finishing 2nd in 2018. They also plummeted from 2nd to 16th in total yards this season. So, what gives?
The supposed “fix” that teams came up for Rams Head Coach Sean McVay’s offensive scheme has mostly been dealt with in the first three games. While teams have been using six-man fronts across the line, McVay has been exploiting this trend by creating mismatches with WR Cooper Kupp which is partly the reason why he’s looked so dominant this season to go along with a positive running game.
The overriding issue though is that QB Jared Goff is not benefiting from McVay’s adjustments. Or at least, so far he has not. And there’s been some heated moments between McVay and Goff on the sidelines probably due to frustrations with the execution. But all that flows underneath the bridge when you win the game, right?
In his first three games, Goff has a Pro Football Focus grade of 66.2. That’s Joe Flacco-esque. The concern regarding our $134m man is understandable.
But Goff will turn the corner. Here’s why:
The interior linemen will settle in
Think of the first four games as a preseason in which the stats actually count. The intensity of live games cannot be replicated in practice. Since the starters didn’t touch the field in the preseason, you’re going to see some rough waters with the new guys. Second-year C Brian Allen has a lot on his shoulders, and the drop from veteran C John Sullivan to Allen has been seismic. Add in the injury to RG Austin Blythe and the growing pains that will naturally happen with LG Joseph Noteboom, well... it’s a lot.
Goff has been pressured more than the last two seasons, but it’s a lot more about execution than talent. Once Blythe returns and the game slows down a bit more for Noteboom and Allen, Goff will be happy and productive.
The run game will find its identity
Why? Because it has to.
When will RB Darrell Henderson Jr. find some playing time? There have been no signs of that happening so far, but something has to happen because Gurley isn’t the same as he was last year. McVay has called a very aggressive passing attack to start the games this season as a reaction to the six guys lining up against the Rams. The positive takeaway from this is that McVay has found success by directing the run plays to the undersized defensive backs. Of course, this hasn’t been a strong trend for the offense, but it’s one that will be become a bigger focus in the weeks to come. Whether it’s RB Todd Gurley or RB Malcolm Brown or Henderson at some point, the Rams are going to figure out how to extend run plays. And once that happens, Goff’s playaction options will return.
Also, I am a believer that Goff will reestablish his passing connection with Gurley. Once he spends hours watching plays like this, over and over, Goff is going to see that he needs to throw the ball to his running back.
Goff will watch this countless times. Never even looked at Gurley who ran a comeback route. Would’ve ended the game. pic.twitter.com/JgRCXJEK1m— Rams Brothers: The Pod (@RamsBrothers) September 23, 2019
What’s been working for Goff this season has been great
For the casual fan that has only seen the highlights for Goff, he has looked pretty great! When he rolls out to find a wide-open Kupp for a touchdown? Awesome. An absolute dime to WR Brandin Cooks going deep? Amazing! A 3rd down conversion to a diving WR Robert Woods? Amen. But we’ve seen the spaces in between where Goff’s performance has been less stellar.
Goff’s inconsistency can largely be blamed on timing issues with a re-constructed offensive line and a new scheme that’s attempting to address the opposing team’s reaction to the recent success of Goff and the Rams.
It’s a lot to deal with, but Goff is up to the task.
The Week 4 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a good indicator of where we’re heading with Goff moving forward.
The rust has been shaken off. The scheme has been revised, and expectations have been adjusted. What does that mean for Rams fans?
It means you can trust your quarterback. He’s got this.