- Goff’s bounce-back performance in the victory over the 49ers reveals a player in an ideal system, growing into his role as a franchise QB
On Monday morning earlier this week, we were talking about Jared Goff’s ugly, baffling loss-sealing interception to linebacker Mason Foster at the end of the Rams-Washington game. Now, after Thursday’s win over the 49ers, we’re talking about Goff looking every bit like the star you expect a No. 1 overall pick to be. Goff torched a tired but talented 49ers defense for 292 yards and three touchdowns, completing 22 passes on 28 dropbacks. He took no sacks and had no turnovers.
So which one is the real Jared Goff? Both … but only in the sense that it’s unrealistic to think a 22-year-old quarterback with 10 starts is going to function at an All-Pro level every game. There will be other blunders in the near future—hopefully none as bad as the interception to Foster, but unenjoyable learning experiences nonetheless.
Still, Rams fans—and fans of good quarterbacking—can comfortably bask in the glory of a rising franchise QB. Goff is for real. A big reason is his coach and the system he runs. Sean McVay is fast gaining a reputation as a quarterbacks savant. His offense is a deliberate amalgamation of the Patriots, Saints and Falcons. The Patriots for their pre-snap motion and receivers’ off-the-line release concepts, the Saints for their downfield route combinations, and the Falcons for the way they marry their passing and outside zone running games.
All of this makes life easier on Goff. The nuance of the formations and the clarity of the play designs create defined reads for the quarterback. Goff has a very nice arm, but not a cannon. He’s built more to be a rhythmic passer. He needs an offense that helps establish that rhythm. A system that successfully blends the Patriots, Saints and Falcons can do that. And a play-caller who knows how to build an offensive attack within the game by calling plays that set up later plays also helps. And so does that play-caller’s willingness to throw deep on first down, usually off of play-action. On first down, defenses are simple and predictable. The pass rush is less of a factor, which is big for Goff, as his footwork and poise under pressure remain a work in progress.
McVay did all of this for Kirk Cousins in Washington. Goff is a more talented version of Cousins. Though he’s not as big a risk-taker as Cousins, he’ll have ups and downs like Cousins does. We still have to see how Goff performs when his pass-blockers struggle. Against San Francisco, the Rams’ blockers were facing a defensive line that, just five days earlier, had endured 82 snaps at Seattle. Before the Rams’ Week 8 bye, they’ll face the Seahawks, Jaguars and Cardinals. Bigger challenges await. But we can expect Goff to be up for it.
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