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Fool me on the first read, shame on me, fool me on the second read, you’re not Jared Goff

LA Rams quarterback was perhaps the NFL’s worst QB when it came to making his second choice

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

LA Rams quarterback Jared Goff is rarely, if ever, criticized for his physical gifts and understandably so. But during his reign as one of the NFL’s best statistical passers from 2017-2018 — fourth in touchdowns, third in yards per attempt behind only Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, sixth in passer rating — as the Rams went 24-7 in his starts, there were some doubts raised about Goff’s personal input on the success of the offense.

Was Goff elevating those around him or was he simply lucky to be there as Sean McVay reinvented an offense that now featured free agent additions Andrew Whitworth, John Sullivan, and Robert Woods, as well as trade acquisition Sammy Watkins, and rookie Cooper Kupp? Additionally, Goff would go from working with the Jeff Fisher version of Gurley who averaged 3.18 yards per carry in 2016, to the McVay version who nearly won two MVPs.

It is impossible to go back and separate the two entities — Goff playing for a different team in 2017-2018 or Los Angeles starting a different quarterback — to answer that question but could there be clues along the way? Though it is practically a moot point now thanks to Goff’s massive contract extension that makes him nearly impossible to part with for the next two years, it is certainly worth noting what to look out for when the 2020 season gets underway.

At least one publication is saying to watch Jared Goff as he goes through his progressions. While ProFootballFocus “grades” may not mean much more than the ones on your sophomore year report card, I’m not going to be surprised when they lead us down a path towards an important realization. PFF’s Sam Monson says that Goff’s ability to be successful on his first read compared to his second read may be one of the largest gaps in the NFL.

Goff was their lowest graded passer when forced to progress beyond his first read.

Goff’s passer rating dropped from 101.1 to 86.5 last season. His yards per attempt went from 8.4 to 7.4. He threw an NFL-high 626 passes, 65 more passes than the previous season, but then he threw for fewer overall yards than the year before. The numbers were not as bad as the Fisher year in 2016 — and it’s worth mentioning that even for a rookie, Goff’s numbers were historically low — but his path towards remaining a starter for two, three, or more years down the line and not doing that is going to have a hard determination in 2020.

And not just for what his overall numbers are and how many games the Rams win but is Goff doing more than simply executing his first option and can he create opportunities where none seem to exist? His problems can’t simply be solved by Cam Akers and Van Jefferson.