This past season was a rollercoaster for Jared Goff and the Rams as the team never truly found their identity until late in the season. Goff threw for just 22 touchdowns and a career-high 16 interceptions with a passer rating of 86.5. Although the easiest answer for an NFL fan is to put all the blame all on him, it is obvious that there were several contributing factors that led to these staggering low numbers. For one, Todd Gurley as everyone was all aware was banged up and not rushing like the same Gurley from previous years. He was averaging just 3.8 yards a carry and finished out the season with 857 yards on the ground. Without establishing a true run/pass game balance, it puts more pressure on the QB to perform. Another reason was various combinations of different offensive lineman due to the early season injuries of Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, and later down the road Rob Havenstein.
In October of 2019, the offensive line had a PFF grade of 40.9 which ranked 32nd in the league right behind Miami and Cincinnati. Ultimately, Sean McVay implemented a 2 tight end set which essentially helped the offensive line to get more time for Goff to throw. You can tell the difference in the numbers easily. Take for example the 1st game vs San Francisco, Goff completed just 13 of his 24 attempts that went for 78 yards and 0 touchdowns while being sacked 4 times that game. Now when you go to the rematch vs San Francisco later in the season he completed 27 of his 46 attempts and 2 touchdowns in which he was sacked 0 times in this game and looked sharp. This is a reason for optimism as McVay has identified schemes and different skillsets to allow Goff to see the field more.
The offensive line is all about continuity, and McVay has stressed that on numerous occasions. I spoke with NFL Network’s Brooke Kromer, daughter of the current run game coordinator Aaron Kromer, and she had reiterated that it takes time to develop and master the position. And she is 100% right on that. During the draft fans were pleading for the Rams to take an offensive lineman which we did not end up selecting until Tremayne Anchrum was selected in the 7th round. That should show you the confidence the front office and coaching staff has instilled in the investments of the previous drafts to take that next step in their careers.
On that note, given we see an improvement from the offensive line and schematics put in place, we know what Goff can do when he has a little bit of time. In 2017 he had a passer rating of 100.5 and followed that up the very next season with a rating of 101.1. Fans of other organizations might say well he does not have Gurley and Cooks anymore, but you know what the Rams do have? Cam Akers who 904 of his 1,144 yards rushing came after contact last season and Van Jefferson the speedy WR who, in my opinion, was one of the best route runners in this year’s draft. On top of that, Josh Reynolds who led the LA offense in yards per reception and yards after the catch as well as the emergence of Tyler Higbee who became just the 4th tight end in NFL history to notch 4 consecutive 100-yard receiving games. The Rams also added Kevin O’Connell to their staff as offensive coordinator back in January, the 34-year-old coach moved up the ranks quickly within the Washington Redskins organization and is highly regarded by many coaches around the league. O’Connell and McVay together are going to make for a great duo you can expect to see much more creativity which can only help Goff get back to his previous self.
Goff struggled last season and that’s a given but the disrespect feels so unwarranted. This is a guy who was in the MVP conversation at one point, is a 2x pro bowler, first-team all-pro, and has won playoff games while also leading the Rams to the game-winning field goal that sent the team to Super Bowl 53. Being the first overall pick in any draft there seems to be a stigma around the NFL community that they need to perform lights out Mahomes type-level every single year, which I never understood.
While it feels most are falling prisoner of the moment, I for one am excited to see all these new additions get to work with QB1. My optimism remains through the roof as I have all the confidence in the world that Goff, McVay and the rest of the offensive staff will rebound better than ever before and the let the rest of the league know they shouldn’t have been slept on.