LOS ANGELES -- Healthy enough to play against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card last week, Jared Goff was passed over for the starting quarterback job for backup John Wolford, making just his second NFL start.
Goff, who suffered a broken thumb on his right, throwing hand the required surgery the previous week, would eventually get in the game, leading his team to an upset victory over the Seahawks when Wolford suffered a neck stinger in the opening quarter.
Still, head coach Sean McVay choosing Wolford over his franchise quarterback had to sting for the Cal product, right?
Goff took a mature, diplomatic approach when answering that question for reporters this week.
“We are able to disagree,” he said. “We’re two grown men who disagreed on the status of my thumb. It’s not the end of the world. I think I was able to come in there and help us get the win and that is most important to me. It’s something that we talked about last week and he had to plan accordingly. He’s the head coach. He has to make tough decisions like that. At the end of the day, it was last week and we’ve moved on.”
Goff continues to take hits on his status as a top quarterback in the league. In this piece by NFL.com, Goff was ranked seventh out of eight quarterbacks in the divisional round of playoffs of who teams would want under center for the next three years. Tom Brady, 43, was ranked ahead of Goff.
Only 42-year-old Drew Brees ranked below Goff.
However, in his fifth NFL season, only Brady (47) has more wins the 26-year-old Goff (42) since 2017. He’s 3-2 in the playoffs and helped lead the Rams to the Super Bowl two years ago. Goff inked a four-year, $134 million extension in September of 2019, cementing his role as the team’s franchise quarterback.
Yet, Goff’s status as one of the best NFL quarterbacks in the league has been challenged this week. Only Jameis Winston (70) has more turnovers than Goff (65) since 2017. Specifically, Goff has been slow through his progressions at times this season, especially under duress. Per Next Gen Stats, Goff completed 55-of-118 passes (46.6 percent) for 619 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions when pressured during the 2020 regular season.
While Goff’s play has been up-and-down, and one of the ways to show his worth would be to go out and play well with one of the best to ever do it in Aaron Rodgers on the other sideline.
So, does Goff have something to prove against the Packers? He pointed to another durable quarterback in the league as inspiration.
“I think every day you feel that way,” he said. “I think every day at practice, every game, you always want to assert yourself and prove yourself. I think I’ve heard some of the guys that have been in the league a long time, I think back to I heard (Colts QB) Philip Rivers talk about this – every day at practice is a chance to win your job.
“You have to go out there every day, do your role and win your job. I don’t think that’s ever changed for me nor will ever change. I think yes, I always want to prove myself and always want to be the best I can be.”
Although he chose Wolford over Goff even though the Cal product was healthy enough to play, McVay says he still has confidence in his franchise quarterback.
“I thought he handled last week really well,” McVay said. “You think about the circumstances that he dealt with, coming off the thumb surgery, going against a defense of that caliber, not getting really any reps during the course of the week. Then you’re thrust into the game in the first quarter and do a great job of having a clean slate with the turnovers. He prepared himself this week as if he was ready to go.
“So, I think there was a little bit different mindset and mentality. What I learned as much as anything was his ability to be able to handle a difficult thing where, ‘Hey, I’m going to do everything in my power to get ready for my teammates if they need me.’ Well, it just so happened that we did, I think it’s a credit to who he is as a man, that he can be able to step in, do what he did, and now this week has represented an opportunity to build on last week, get another week removed from that thumb injury. … He’s played in a lot of big games and this is a great opportunity for us. With him leading our offense, I feel great about the chance.”