No more excuses. No more “he’s developing.” No more “the offensive line isn’t protecting enough.” It’s time to be frank. If the Rams miss the playoff again this year, it will be first and foremost because of Jared Goff’s insufficiencies.
He’s not a second year quarterback. He wasn’t a mid-round pick. He was the first overall pick. The Rams picked him over Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Michael Thomas, Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner and Laremy Tunsil. This is his fifth year in the league and his fourth in Sean McVay’s system. He signed a $134M contract last year. He got $110M fully guaranteed. He makes an average of $33.5M/year, which is the sixth most out of any quarterback in the league. But for some reason, we don’t hold him to the standard of his draft stock, resumé or salary. For some reason, we all just accepted the fact that he’s nothing more than a slightly better version of Kirk Cousins.
Goff is a quarterback who almost never secures a win. He’s a quarterback that you either win with, or win in spite of. To be fair, part of this is because of McVay’s offense. McVay runs a very run-heavy offense, with lots of pre-snap motion and hard play action. Unlike the Chiefs’ or Seahawks’ offenses, which are built around making the quarterback successful, the Rams’ offense is built to limit how much they ask of the quarterback.
Lots of offenses use a strong running game and play action to build a more balanced offense. But with the Rams, it’s much more than that. In the NFL, quarterbacks have speakers in their helmets and the play caller is allowed to speak to them until there is 15 seconds left on the play clock. Usually, there is only time for the play call and then the quarterback has to read the defense and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage himself. The Rams, however, always get to the line as quickly as possible so there is more time left on the clock and McVay can explain the defense to Goff and talk him through it.
It’s not like in Kansas City,Houston,Seattle or frankly anywhere else where the coaching staff puts its faith in the quarterback and trusts him to elevate those around him and lead the team. The Rams’ most dominant wins come from running the ball all day and every few plays asking Goff to give a play fake and throw downfield to a receiver who has already been schemed wide open. He’s not the engine of his offense, he’s just a really important element of it.
And to be clear, I don’t necessarily hate this style of offense. Philosophically, a run-heavy offense is something I am always on board with, especially one that’s well-designed and utilizes a lot of play-action. I do not have a problem, per se, with an offense that limits how much it asks from its quarterback. What I do have a problem with is when the quarterback who isn’t being asked for much still underperforms and causes his team to lose games.
When Russel Wilson is off, it’s understandable. He’s asked to do so much and is so central that you can’t expect him to play at 100% for 100% of the snaps. And you have enough faith in him to know that with the more he plays, the more he will be able to make improvements as the game goes on.
When Jared Goff is off, on the other hand, it is frustrating. The Rams ask so little from their quarterback that they can’t afford for him to be off. Two weeks ago, on Sunday Night Football, the 49ers, missing some of their best defensive players, absolutely bottled him up. He was off all game. He was inaccurate, he was out of rhythm. Simply put, Goff was the worst version of himself; the Rams can’t afford to get the worst version of their quarterback. Against the Dolphins last week, there’s no other way to say it — he was terrible. He finished the first half under 50% passing with no touchdowns and four turnovers. It was abysmal. There’s no excuse for it.
I want to be fair to Goff. He seems like a nice guy. He throws a really pretty deep ball. And part of this isn’t his fault. He might have had more success 10 years ago, but he’s an immoble quarterback playing an era where colleges are producing much better defensive linemen than offensive linemen. But his physical limitations are not an excuse for his poor play. The Rams are a good team, and Goff is a good quarterback, but he needs to be the best version of himself in order for them to be successful. The Rams gave him so much money that they can’t afford to cut him and won’t be able to trade him. So this isn’t me saying, “Rams need to move on from Goff.” They can’t. He just needs to be better. It’s as simple as that.