They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
What did quarterback Jared Goff do well in 2018 when he led the Rams to the Super Bowl?
Well, the first thing I think of when I think back to then is every time I looked at highlights during a game, there was Goff throwing another deep touchdown pass.
I kept thinking to myself that season: "Again?”
To dive deeper into the specifics, there was no better way to answer that than going back and looking at the game film, and that is what I did.
I went back to the 2018 season, and randomly pulled three games at the beginning, middle and end of that season (9/16 vs. Arizona, 11/11 vs. Seattle and 12/16 vs. Philadelphia).
My first impression was how decisive he looked in these games, and how crisp he looked in the pocket with his ball handling.
Goff was in command, and he ran the offense with a brisk and smooth-feeling rhythm and tempo.
More than anything, he looked confident. His movements looked sure.
Goff went through his progressions, and at times, noticeably found his second option. He visibly showed his football intelligence and how quickly he was processing what he was seeing.
It can never be overstated just how important confidence is at the QB position. It is the single most important characteristic a QB can possess, and Goff had a lot of it that season. It oozed out of him on film.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson also took the time this offseason to look back at what Goff did well during his tenure in Los Angeles.
“One thing that we’ve done is included him a lot in what we’re trying to do schematically,” Johnson told reporters. “So, we spent some time this offseason watching more of the stuff he did a few years ago in L.A. and how we can incorporate some of that, while also challenging him to take the next step in some areas of improvement for him as a player, as well.
“I think when you look back at his time in L.A., he was really successful with certain schemes, with certain concepts. We’re just going to look to incorporate some of those a little bit more. I know play-action is something he’s really good at, and we’re going to look at doing that. It’s really a strength of our offense, as well. We’re going to be a really good running team, so that’s going to show up on Sundays is the play-action and the movement game."
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On the aforementioned game film I watched, Goff kept firing it downfield after an incompletion or even an interception. Goff didn’t allow setbacks to derail him.
A prime example of this was in the Philadelphia game in Week 15. Goff threw a pick in the second quarter, but he battled back the next drive and led the Rams to a field goal.
That Eagles game was not that great of an outing for Goff. However, even being down, 30-13, in the fourth quarter, he battled back, 30-23, and on the last play of the game, he threw an incompletion in the end zone that potentially could have tied the game and sent it into overtime.
Goff never gave up. He kept swinging. His eyes looked intense.
Goff aggressively kept driving the ball downfield with authority, as well as frequently into the intermediate level of the field.
Case in point, earlier in that season, the Rams were up, 27-0, against the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. Being up on the scoreboard like that didn’t stop Goff. He launched another one into the end zone. He overthrew it, but that’s not the point.
The point is he never aggressively stopped taking shots.
Goff came back the very next drive in that Arizona game and threw another short touchdown pass, putting the Rams up, 34-0.
The aggressiveness -- or his aggressive mentality -- really stood out.
Goff looked like he knew where he was going with the ball, and he got it out quickly. His ball placement was on point most of the time. He either fit it into tight windows against coverage, or put it right where it needed to be, so receivers could catch it in stride and go.
Goff was “downfield-minded” back then. This is a phrase I have coined to describe signal-callers who are more focused on driving the ball downfield, than the pass rush or anything else going on around them.
Nobody would ever call Goff a running QB, but he was so downfield-minded that he managed to wiggle out of some near sacks and then put himself in position to fire the ball downfield. Either that or if he was going down, he tried to throw the ball away to avoid the offense taking a loss on the play.
Goff was determined and poised. He looked like a man who was on a mission - - and he was.
That mission was Super Bowl LIII.