Goff has chance to avoid 0-7 rookie year as Rams' starter
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Jared Goff is down to his last chance to end his rookie season as a winning quarterback.
With six straight losses as a starter to begin his career, Goff is staring down the possibility of a winless debut season when the Los Angeles Rams (4-11) wrap up their disappointing campaign at home against the Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) on Sunday.
While Goff's unimpressive statistics echo the entire Los Angeles offense's season-long woes, that 0-6 record as a starter means the most to Goff, who fully realizes the scope of the work he faces in the months and years ahead with the Rams' next coaching staff.
But first, a single ''W'' would be huge.
''It would be big,'' Goff said. ''Anytime you win a game, it's nice. But I think to end the season on a win would give us a good taste in our mouth, and something that we could build on in the offseason.''
Goff has completed 53.5 percent of his passes with seven interceptions and five touchdown passes while getting sacked 19 times for a 61.7 passer rating. His tepid start to his NFL career is inextricably linked to his mediocre supporting cast and the overall struggles of the franchise, which has run out of competitive gas in the final weeks of its draining relocation season.
Los Angeles has lost six straight games - every start of Goff's career - and 10 of 11 overall. The Rams will need a bonanza afternoon against the Cardinals to avoid finishing as the NFL's 32nd-ranked offense for the second straight year.
The Rams' defense even blew a 14-point lead in the final minutes of a loss to the woeful 49ers last week. The collapse prompted Goff to make a heartfelt vow directly to Rams fans afterward, promising to give ''everything in my heart and soul to get it all fixed.''
With one more chance under interim coach John Fassel, the Rams are rallying around their young quarterback.
''I think it would be great for this whole organization, let alone for Jared,'' offensive coordinator Rob Boras said. ''I'm a big fan of Jared, and all I've said to him (is that) this stuff cannot define you. He's going to define himself over his career. ... For this organization, for Jared, for everybody to move forward into this offseason with some excitement, I think, would be huge. I think they deserve it. He deserves it.''
Rams fans in need of solace from Goff's slow start have looked to the modest early careers of other No. 1 overall picks. Goff, who has studied quarterbacks since childhood, already did it.
Eli Manning also lost his first six NFL starts in 2004 before winning his season finale, and he had remarkably similar numbers to Goff's current statistics. Troy Aikman went 0-11 as a rookie starter for the Cowboys, throwing nine TD passes and 18 interceptions.
''A lot of guys that ended up being really good were on teams as a rookie that weren't very good,'' Goff said. ''There's prime examples in the league right now (of players and) teams that turned it around. And in reference to us, I expect a similar thing to happen in the future.''
Manning and Aikman turned out just fine, and the Rams know Goff has resilience. He went 1-11 at California in 2013, but kept working and eventually led the Golden Bears to a winning record last year.
''I know that he started slowly his freshman year at Cal, and obviously we've kind of had that same sort of year,'' Boras said. ''His freshman year at Cal didn't define him, and his rookie year in the NFL is not going to define him. I think he's a really mentally tough guy.''
Carson Palmer never even got on the field as a rookie in Cincinnati, but the Heisman Trophy winner studied and learned behind Jon Kitna, and the veteran advises Goff to keep the same studious mentality.
''When you go through struggles early, and bad things happen early, I think it's so important to learn from them, and not bury them away and be disappointed by them,'' said Palmer, who faces Goff on Sunday. ''Not that you're going to be happy with not having success, but use them as learning experiences.''
Goff will listen: After all, he got a Carson Palmer jersey for Christmas when he was 10 years old.
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