The LA Rams gave me a lot of interesting and positive data points over the first five games of the season. The loss to the San Francisco 49ers was no less interesting, but unfortunately there were not a lot of positives.
In 2018, Jared Goff was credited with a “bad throw” on 17.5% of his attempts and his season-high was 11 bad throws in a game against the Detroit Lions. The Rams won that game but then Goff had nine bad throws in a loss to the Chicago Bears the following week and 10 bad throws in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Goff had 130 attempts in those three games, averaging a bad throw on 23% of his passes. This was uncharacteristic of the type of season Goff was having prior to the game before the Lions game: the infamous 54-51 thriller on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the first 10 games of the season, Goff had 47 bad throws. That’s 4.7 bad throws per game and a bad throw percentage of 14.1%.
Against the Chiefs, Goff attempted 49 passes and had nine bad throws. Then 11, then nine, then 10. Los Angeles had been a fairly dominant team over the first seven games of that season, but then the games became much more “thrilling.” Good news for ratings, bad news for McVay if not for the fact that the Rams had managed to win the majority of those nail biters.
The act came together in Week 16, a 31-9 win over the Arizona Cardinals in which Goff had a season-best one bad throw. He went 19 of 24 and the team got moving on the ground with C.J. Anderson. Of course, much of this is tied to Todd Gurley and the running game, but that is probably common knowledge by now.
Nevertheless, Goff’s bad throw percentage in the playoffs was 22.2%, including eight bad throws in the Super Bowl loss. The New England Patriots blitzed Goff 16 times, as many times as the New Orleans Saints sent extra rushers in the NFC Championship game. The only team in the regular season to send a blitz against the Rams more often was the Chiefs, who went 17 times. Goff did average eight bad throws in those games.
In 2019, Goff’s bad throw percentage was 20.2% and he continued right where he left off in the Super Bowl: eight bad throws against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 and an average of 8.8 per game over the first eight games of the season. Goff reeled it in for a few games in the middle of the season, but never had fewer than three and only six times had fewer than eight.
Now as of this season, perhaps because of the addition of offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, the health of the offensive line, play action passing, a healthier running game, fewer holding penalties, a certain schedule and any number of variables, a completely different Jared Goff had shown up in the bad throws columns at Pro-Football-Reference. Here were his bad throw totals over the first five weeks, but imagine that Sesame Street characters are shouting them out as a counting exercise:
Despite a steady dose of 30 attempts per game, Goff had only thrown a total of 19 bad passes over the first five games. Only against the Philadelphia Eagles did his bad throw% go above 16.1. Goff’s performances against the Washington Football Team, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys were better than any he had in 2019, at least in this one measurement.
Then Goff had 10 bad throws against the San Francisco 49ers. They only blitzed eight times, only pressured him three times and got no sacks, but Goff had his least accurate passing game of the season. Worse, his receivers also dropped three passes.
It was a combination of events that led to his worst passing game of the season and so long as it was as random as Goff claims it to be, it should remain his worst passing game of the season. He is right that Sunday’s performance was not indicative of the way he has played in 2020. But number of bad throws he had against the 49ers does resemble some of what went wrong after that win over the Chiefs and into last season.
I do believe because of the variables I mentioned before that it is more of anomaly than not and that he will be more accurate in the future.