As you all know, Jared Goff’s best season to date came in 2018, when he completed 64.9% of his pass attempts, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt, and throwing a touchdown on 5.7% of his throws. Though passing numbers have skewed up significantly in the last five years, Goff’s numbers from that year do rank consistently among the top-50 all-time.
Goff’s 2018 TD% is tied as the 50th-best.
His 101.1 passer rating is tied with fellow number one picks Steve Young and Carson Palmer as the 34th-best all-time.
His 8.36 yards per attempt ranks 14th, ahead of Drew Brees’ 2011 campaign and just behind Aaron Rodgers’ 2014 season.
His completion percentage from 2018 ranks 41st.
These are all qualified with players who threw at least 500 attempts, which is also a concept that is relatively new and more frequent, so we must take that into account. But because QBs have become so much more efficient, it means that they can throw 500 times and not sacrifice as much in rate stats like Y/A and completion percentage.
Behind the best offensive line of his career, with a healthy Todd Gurley behind him, and a healthy Brandin Cooks running in front of him, Goff made his second straight Pro Bowl and helped lead the LA Rams to the Super Bowl with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. It was a far cry from where Goff was at as a rookie under Jeff Fisher and maybe just a hair better than his first season under Sean McVay, but with 84 more pass attempts than he had in 2017.
The hope then is that when you see that Goff had 30 more completions and 65 more pass attempts in 2019 that his numbers would improve, stay the same, or at least keep in earshot, but as you are also aware that did not happen.
Less Gurley, less Cooks, (but more Cooper Kupp), Goff’s completion percentage fell by two points, his touchdown percentage fell to 3.5%, and he averaged a full yard less per pass attempt. Goff threw 626 passes compared to 561 the year before, but he went from 32 touchdowns to 22. He also went from 12 picks to 16, raising his INT% from 2.1 to 2.6. His 86.5 passer rating ranked 22nd, behind three rookies (Gardner Minshew, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones), as well as Jacoby Brissett and Case Keenum.
This is not to entirely bring down the house though, as Goff and the offense did manage to lower one counting and rate stat considerably despite the increase in attempts:
Goff was sacked 33 times on 561 attempts in 2018, signaling that he may have been more willing to tuck it in than risk a poor throw.
But Goff was sacked only 22 times on 626 attempts in 2019, a rate of only one sack per 28.4 attempts, the best mark in the league. No other QB or team had a lower sack rate per attempt than Goff and the Rams. This may be good — sacks are bad — though it does come with important caveats.
Number one is that Goff’s bad throw% increased from 17.5% to 20.2% per Pro-Football-Reference, meaning that he may have been more willing to take risks than take sacks. The .5% increase in interception rate could be coming into play here. But surprisingly his throwaways went way down, from 29 on 561 attempts to only 15 on 626. He had half as many throwaways on 65 more attempts, which could have also led to more poor decisions.
While we’re at it, the receivers didn’t do him as many favors in 2019: drops increased from 13 to 27, raising the rate of drops from 2.5% to 4.4%.
And what part did the offensive line play in this? Well, the sacks are a QB stat narrative has been building a lot of steam recently and does make good points, specifically that quarterbacks are the ones making risk-reward decisions behind the offensive line. They’re the ones who oftentimes must be responsible for thinking, “Can I make a play here despite pressure?” and “Am I willing to take it and fight another down?” A QB with a quicker release, even by a small fraction of a second, is likely to make his offensive line look better.
Despite all the differences we saw from 2018 to 2019, Goff’s time in the pocket was exactly the same in both years: 2.6 seconds.
Goff may deserve a little more credit for leading the NFL in sack rate, however we must wonder if he could have taken a few more sacks and whether or not that could have led to fewer bad throws and decisions. Those are some of they key areas that Goff and McVay will have to look into this offseason as they prepare for free agency and the draft as it pertains to protection, decisions, and an offensive line that PFF still ranked as the second-worst in the league.