20 Jul The Jared Goff Mistake
The saying insists that there are merely a handful of “franchise” quarterbacks and, without one, the Super Bowl is a pipedream. In the absence of an established player under-center, championships are only obtainable with the aid of a generational defense.
In the NFL, patience is a nebulous word with owners and general managers alike. Five year contracts are crafted under the guise of a two-year deal if a playoff berth isn’t obtained. Rather than taking the time to establish a well-rounded roster, some general managers will swing for the fences in hopes of landing the next prominent quarterback.
As the Rams moved from small-market St. Louis to the bright lights of Los Angeles, ownership determined it needed a face that could generate a Tinsel-Town-worthy-buzz.
Enter Jared Goff.
On the surface, the acquisition made sense. The California Kid resurrected the football program at Berkley and would quickly endear himself to the newest fans of the Rams organization.
Goff worked his way into the conversation as the potential top-pick with an impressive showing at the annual Scouting Combine. In Indianapolis, he put his big arm on display and it had scouts raving. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Goff looked the part of an NFL quarterback. Pairing his quintessential size with eye-popping college production, Goff seemed like the perfect gift to the fans of the city that hasn’t seen professional football since 1994.
After the Rams identified the man for the job, there was still work to be done. Picking 15th meant Los Angeles would have to trade to the top of the draft to secure their guy – and it was not going to be cheap.
Jared Goff cost the Rams a fortune. In addition to receiving the first pick of the draft, L.A. would also receive Tennessee’s fourth and sixth round selections in 2016. Going back to Tennessee were the Rams first round pick, two second round selections and a third round selection. Additionally, L.A. would send its first round pick (fifth overall) in 2017 to the Titans.
Coming from a shotgun based offense in college, Goff arrived at training camp without the ability to take a snap from under-center, the most basic of requirements of an NFL quarterback. His struggles with this normally-engrained skill was well-documented on HBO’s Hard Knocks series. As the dog days of August wore on, it became increasingly obvious that Goff’s education-process would extend well into his rookie season.
It wasn’t until November that the Rams coaching staff heeded to the pressure of ownership, pundits and the fan base to remove incumbent starter, Case Keenum. Inserting the unprepared rookie into the NFL’s worst scoring offense couldn’t get any worse, right?
Under Keenum’s watch, the offense averaged 15.4 points per game. In the seven games quarterbacked by Goff, the Rams scored a putrid 12.1 points per game – 4.4 points lower than the next lowest scoring team.
With Keenum, the Rams offense lacked talent at the position requisite to succeed. However, progression reads were built into the scheme and allowed for the occasional splash play. When Goff entered the line-up, the field was cut in half. Offensive coordinator Rob Boras’ offense was further hand-cuffed as his new quarterback struggled with anything resembling complexity.
Simple stick routes, slant-flat combinations and the occasional screen or swing pass to the back was as intricate as the Rams offense got under the rookie. In his first game, Goff lined-up under center on a play call that was designed for him to take the snap in the shotgun. Occasionally, the offense took a shot at one-on-one coverage up the sideline, but the timing and precision was never there.
This is a typical slant/flat combo that every team in the NFL runs. Goff even identified zone coverage pre-snap with motion and still refused to hold that linebacker. He telegraphs the throw and it’s off to the races in the other direction.
Under any measure, Goff’s rookie season was a disaster. His 63.3 passer rating was 8.9 points worse than Brock Osweiler’s mark – the Texans had to give away a second round draft choice just for Cleveland to take his contract off the books just one year after the deal was signed.
With the safe-throw offense in place, Goff still completed just 54.6% of his passes. His 5.3 yards per attempt – a half yard worse than the lowest ranked qualifying quarterback (Osweiler.)
If you’re familiar with this website, you know I don’t put any value into those volume numbers unless the tape backs-up the stats. In this case, those stats, as bad as they are, don’t do his poor-play justice. His 2016 grade was 84 points lower than the next worse player (Osweiler again.)
Goff’s highest graded game was .306 – .183 points lower than the league average. Anyway the numbers are spliced, the year was an unmitigated disaster that would guarantee a change at the position under almost any other circumstance. Since the Rams mortgaged the future of the franchise on this one player, he retains the job for at least another year.
Another example of his inability to decipher coverage, this time the Saints get the takeaway. Linebackers in zone, doesn’t honor inside technique and throws it right to the defenders coming off his zone.
Taking opinions from Hard Knocks or Amazon’s All or Nothing is presumptuous practice. Still the scene when Chris Weinke entered the quarterback room where Goff was supposed to be studying and asked a question was unforgettable. Goff was texting and quickly put the phone down and perked up giving the illusion that he was paying attention. I have seen that look before – hell, I have executed that look before. That is the look given when the material is boring and the student/employee is disinterested.
The candid shots of Goff hanging out on the sideline with a coaching intern, not paying attention to the valuable reps happening in front of his eyes were another tell. Perhaps trumping all of that was his fascination with the location of the sunrise and sunset.
Playing the hindsight game when it comes to the draft is a loaded-argument and could make any team look like a circus. Draft picks (namely first and second round choices) are an NFL team’s most valuable resources.
Making proper reads are far from Goff’s only flaw, he struggles with ball-location rather frequently. Here is a basic out to an inline tight end. The throw has to go three yards outside the numbers and Goff puts it inside for an easy interception.
The Rams forfeited four selections of that criteria to give the reigns to a 21-year-old with zero experience running an NFL offense; a kid with the on-camera persona of a drone being fed the most generic, politically correct answers imaginable. Goff, a questionably talented, unmotivated child, was surpassed by every one of his peers in the 2016 rookie quarterback class.
Is it too harsh to make these projections based on one season? Perhaps.
Is there a possibility that Goff makes strides in his early career and becomes a quality quarterback? Yes.
The NFL remains a forecasting business. The Patriots are lauded for selling an asset a year earlier than expected.
Sean McVay is the new boss in town and his offense requires complete application to the profession and craft. He will need a cerebral quarterback that is an extension of his shrewd understanding of coverages and route-options.
The Rams aren’t in a position to cut-bait on a player it just sold the farm for 18 months ago – even if it’s the obvious move.