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  • This Los Angeles offense—led by Goff, Todd Gurley and head coach Sean McVay—is shifting the league’s offensive paradigm before our eyes. The rest of the NFL better catch up or risk being left behind.
By Ben Baskin
September 28, 2018

Jared Goff, man. Two years ago when the Rams quarterback revealed on HBO’s Hard Knocks that he didn’t know where the sun rises and sets, I was extremely skeptical about him—and his abysmal rookie season didn’t help his case. But four games into his third season as the Los Angeles starter, coming off a shootout 38–31 victory over Minnesota on Thursday Night Football, it’s clear that Goff is playing the quarterback position as well as—if not better than—anyone in the NFL right now and should be the frontrunner for league MVP.

Goff had four touchdown throws … in the first half. (He finished with 465 yards, five touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.) Two of them were some of the most beautiful throws you could ever see—one, rolling to his right and placing a ball with perfect touch over two defenders’ heads, dropping down perfectly into the hands of Kupp; the second was an absolute dime, 55 yards in the air, hitting Brandon Cooks in stride. Those were great throws, elite throws, NFL MVP throws. For those kinds of throws, it doesn’t matter who the offensive coordinator is; you have to be a damn good quarterback to even attempt them, yet alone complete them. Goff’s performance was magisterial; he was in firm control of the offense all night, placing the ball all over the field with ease.

Yes, the Rams offensive line was fantastic all night, which makes the quarterback’s job easier. And yes, head coach Sean McVay, the mad offensive baby genius of the NFL, has undoubtedly helped Goff’s career and his development. McVay put on a clinic of formations, route concepts, shifts and motions, spreading the Vikings defense both horizontally and vertically, and finding and exploiting mismatches anywhere he chose to look on Thursday night.

Early in the game, McVay schemed two beautiful plays that isolated a pass catcher on linebacker Anthony Barr—first it was RB Todd Gurley coming out of the backfield, forcing Barr to play a potential flat route, angle, and seam, with no help behind him; the second was Cooper Kupp in the slot, running a “leak” concept, first faking a block, then faking a crossing route, and then bending up the sideline and burning Barr deep. Both were touchdowns that can be credited to McVay’s play designing and play calling genius. (He also isolated Robert Woods on Barr in the third quarter for another easy TD pass; safe to say Barr was targeted by the coach.) McVay has created one of the most entertaining and fun offenses I’ve watched in years.

Last season, Goff played very well, but Gurley was the clear fulcrum of the offense. When Gurley wasn’t having a good day, the Rams didn’t have a good day. That is not the case anymore; the Rams are now a well-rounded offense, capable of winning games any way that the situation calls for. In 1999-2001, the Greatest Show on Turf Rams ignited an offensive revolution—this team was the catalyzing event that disrupted the equipoise of the NFL. And it’s starting to feel like this iteration of the Rams is following in that same path. (This team is even breaking the records: Goff became the first Rams quarterback with over 250 yards in the first half since Kurt Warner did so in 2001 and Goff’s five touchdown passes tied Warner’s team record, while Kupp became the first since receiver since Torry Holt to have 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first half since ’01 as well. And their 4–0 record is the team’s best start to a season since, yes, you guessed it, 2001.)

There are so many plodding, regressive, one-dimensional offenses in the league right now—cough, Cowboys ... cough, Seahawks—that seem to be stuck in the past, playing in a different league than the Rams currently are. The contrast is truly jarring and this Los Angeles team is truly dangerous. McVay, Goff and the Rams are shifting the league’s offensive paradigm, and the rest of the NFL better catch up or be left behind.

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HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: The Panthers signed Eric Reid on Thursday, and Jonathan Jones writes that would likely not have happened if Jerry Richardson still owned the team. … Albert Breer details why Jared Goff belongs among the elite passers in the league (and Goff further proved that in Thursday night’s win). … Our gambling experts tell you the best bets for the week.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Robert Klemko went deep with an oral history on the night Jerry Jones knelt. … The Texans have had issues, but Andy Benoit says that Deshaun Watson is not the root of those problems. … Jenny Vrentas polled executives around the league to find what Le’Veon Bell’s worth really is. … In Kalyn Kahler’s College Column, she writes about the ‘other’ Josh Allen, Kentucky’s star pass-rusher.


PRESS COVERAGE

1. The NFL has issued a clarification on the controversial roughing the passer rule.

2. The Titans granted receiver Rishard Matthews’s request for release.

3. Browns QB Tyrod Taylor has been cleared from concussion protocol.

4. Eagles running back Jay Ajayi has said he will play through a back fracture.

5. Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills talked with Colin Kaepernick and said that the quarterback still wants to play in the NFL.

6. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers practiced for the first time since he injured his knee Week 1.


THE KICKER

I hope that everyone reading this has already seen the Creed II trailer. If you haven’t, stop reading right now and go watch it here. I don’t have much to add beyond that the trailer itself is possibly the best movie I’ve ever seen.  You still have enough time to re-watch all seven previous Rocky movies—and I will certainly be forcing my girlfriend to do just—in the coming months before the movie comes out. But still, November 21 cannot get here fast enough.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com.

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