In completing 20-of-27 pass attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns in LA’s 37-19 win over the Eagles in Week 2, Goff did something he didn’t do once in 2019: at least three touchdowns, no interceptions and over 8 yards per attempt in a game. He did that six times from 2017-2018 (three each season) and there were multiple other times in those years (nine to be exact) when he came close to it.
Goff came close to that mark on three or four occasions in 2019 but it was undeniably his least efficient season since playing for Jeff Fisher. He ranked sixth in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement in both 2017 and 2018 but dropped to 15th last year.
Clearly a lot changed for Goff and the Rams between 2018 and 2019 that would have negatively impacted his chances to repeat the success he had:
- The offensive line
- Todd Gurley
- Brandin Cooks
- The consistent movement of offensive coaches under McVay
- One of the most difficult schedules of defenses in the NFL
Through two games, Les Snead and McVay should feel more confident that their answers to those questions have proven as effective as anyone could have asked for.
They prioritized keeping Andrew Whitworth and Austin Blythe and went with continuity and continued development over blowing it up and starting from scratch after one bad season with that group that was impacted by injuries. That included not spending an early draft pick on an offensive lineman and instead going with a running back to replace Gurley and the Rams have efficiently run the ball 79 times in two games.
Snead traded Cooks to the Texans for a second round pick, losing money to not-have one of their best weapons in the Super Bowl season so that they could replace him with a rookie they used the pick on. Van Jefferson has not played like a rookie in training camp or to start this season.
The Rams had lost several offensive coaches to other jobs but this time had acquired one of the attractive options out there with Kevin O’Connell and in two games LA has had one of the most efficient offenses per play in the league.
Among teams that have played 2 games, the top 5 offenses by EPA/play:— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) September 21, 2020
2. Rams (!)
4. Jaguars (!!!!)
The most relevant reason that makes me believe this could be another advanced-stats kind of year for Goff like he had in 2017 and 2018 is the number of pass attempts and rushing attempts. Goff led the NFL with 626 passing attempts in 2019 and we saw why quarterbacks typically don’t want to be among the league leaders in that category despite the appeal of “volume” and “yards.”
Goff has thrown 31 and 27 passes in his two games this season and the Rams have run it 40 and 39 times in those games respectively. McVay would like to run the ball 40 times and see Goff one touchdown per nine pass attempts every week. The decision to trade for Raymond Calais and keep him on the 53-man roster as a fifth running back makes even more sense considering those plans to run like crazy.
Last season the Rams also started 2-0 and ran the ball 62 times. It’s a notable difference. So is the number of attempts in each game, as 27 and 31 attempts is quite low by McVay standards.
If Goff were to average 30 pass attempts per game, four less than his career average, he’d finish the season with 480 attempts. Goff had 477 attempts in 15 games in 2017, averaging 8 yards per attempt and leading the NFL in adjusted net yards per pass attempt. The league’s best quarterbacks are at their best in moderation.
Through two games, that’s what the Rams and Goff have been able to run.