Jared Goff, the QB taken 1st overall in 2016, is the captain steering the high flying LA Rams offense, the 2nd highest scoring offense so far in 2017. In 2016 the Rams were dead last in the NFL with Goff throwing 1,089 yards, 54.6%, 5TDs and 7INTs in just 7 starts. In 2017 so far Goff has 2,964 yards 61.8%, 18TDs and 5INTs through 11 games. The QB out of Cal drew comparisons to Matt Ryan and has put a disappointing rookie season behind him and looks like he could one day challenge for an MVP, like Ryan earned last year.
While Goff has flourished in year 2, it’s the environment the Rams organisation has placed around him which has much to do with his success. The 31 year old offensive guru and QB whisperer, Sean McVay at Head Coach, has been instrumental in Goff’s development. The additions made by front office have surrounded the young QB with weapons while re-assuring the young rookie that his blindside his safe no-matter who lines up opposite. Below I will take a look at why Jared Goff, a QB some quickly labelled a ‘bust’ towards the end of last year has managed to set the league alight in his 2nd season.
Head Coach Sean McVay and OC Matt LaFleur’s creative scheme is utilising every bit of talent on this Rams offense
The 2nd year QB has the advantage of learning his craft under a young and talented Head Coach and Offensive Co-ordinator to match. Sean McVay didn’t become the NFL’s youngest head coach just because he was antithetical to Jeff Fisher – McVay is a bright offensive mind in the league who helped oversee the development of Kirk Cousins and turned the Redskins into the League’s 3rd best passing offense in 2016. OC Matt LaFleur worked directly under Kyle Shanahan as QBs Coach in both Washington and Atlanta, helping Shanahan get the most out of Matt Ryan in 2016 when he was crowned 2016 – remember those comparisons made between Ryan and Goff coming out of College?
McVay’s play calling is utilising all the strengths on this Rams roster as he knows exactly when to dial up a deep strike to Sammy Watkins or Robert Woods, exploit the speed of his rookie TE Gerald Everett or scheme in Cooper Kupp or Tavon Austin. Star RB Todd Gurley is also flourishing as a do it all back after disappearing in the Rams stagnant offense last season. Below are some examples of how McVay is scheming open receivers and helping Goff get into rhythm early in games.
The strong ground attack is allowing Goff favourable match ups outside and helping the Rams run play action
While Jared Goff is currently captain of the ship on offense, Todd Gurley is the engine and his presence in the backfield is what forces teams to honour the run and opens up play action and the rest of the playbook. After an impressive rookie campaign in 2015, Gurley was truly awful in 2016 as he was regularly hit before or at the line of scrimmage due to an offensive line which generated next to no push.
The additions of LT Andrew Whitworth and C John Sullivan (discussed below) alongside great play calling have resulted in a strong showing from Gurley through the first 12 weeks in 2017. The new coaching staff are putting the ball in Gurley’s hands more on swings and screens than the previous regime with Gurley proving he’s not just a between the tackles and outside zone runner – he truly is a great playmaker who is able to make defenders miss in the open field.
The threat of Gurley in the backfield forces teams to load the box with linebackers and safeties having to honour the run. This leaves Goff with one-on-one match ups on the outside for his diverse WR corps where often one is able to separate based on their talents and skill sets, i.e. Robert Woods on a Go, Cooper Kupp on a 10 and out or Watkins on a dig/ slant route.
The addition of LT Andrew Whitworth and C John Sullivan have helped keep Goff upright
The addition of Andrew Whitworth in free agency looks by far to be the best pick up of any team this past off season. After drawing a line under the Greg Robinson experiment (can’t blame them too much as Robinson looked like a pro-typical LT coming out of College), the Rams signed the 35 year old, 3x Pro Bowl to a 3-year, $36m deal.
John Sullivan at center also looks like an excellent pick up as he has quickly built a rapport with Goff in helping identify the protection. Sullivan has also excelled in pass protection and doesn’t look set to be slowing down just yet at 32 years old. These additions along the O-Line have not only helped Todd Gurley and the run game, but also kept Goff upright and allowed him more time in the pocket for his wide receivers to uncover down the field. An example of some great pass protection and the threat that Todd Gurley posses is perfectly illustrated below. The below play also demonstrates that the Rams offense is not just a dink-and-dunk, smoke and mirrors type operation but also has the ability to dial up deep shots to blow the lid off defenses.
After just one off-season, Jared Goff seems in total control of the offense and McVay has complete confidence in him
A lot of Goff’s detractors were quick to highlight that he operated in a spread system in college and was thus unaccustomed to lining up under center and calling out plays in the huddle. In just one off season, Goff has gone from a young QB who looked in over his head in the pros to one that is thriving and making adjustments at the line of scrimmage based on what his eyes are telling him.
Sean McVay currently has complete faith in his young QB as was evidenced in the Rams week 12 match up against the high flying New Orleans Saints. This was LA’s biggest test as an NFC juggernaut that had rolled off 8 straight victories headed into the Coliseum for a big NFC show down. McVay’s conviction never wavered as Goff threw the ball 43 times with Gurley only having 17 carries.
McVay’s confidence in Goff is allowing the Rams to execute a no-huddle offense, something normally reserved for seasoned veterans. In their first drive against the Saints, LA went no huddle with Goff forcing a tired defence to line up and then allow him to audible at the line of scrimmage. While I doubt the 2nd year QB has the entire playbook at his disposal like a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning once did, Goff likely has a set list of plays from which to call and even this in itself is highly impressive. Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins was only allowed to audible in his 5th year as a pro, Goff has started from day 1 with McVay. Below is a great example of Goff audibling at the line of scrimmage and dictating the play call based on what formation and look the defense is in.
Jared Goff has played above and beyond expectations in 2017. Of course having a gifted young Head Coach, creative OC and strong supporting cast will help elevate the play of any young QB. But for me it’s the mental aspect which has most impressed me and stands in complete contrast to last season.
While Mike Zimmer may have put the blue print on tape of how to slow down McVay’s boot-leg and heavy use of the flats offense, Goff looks to have matured faster than most expected. Despite Jeff Fisher and his coaching staffs best efforts last season – Jared Goff now looks like an NFL quarterback.
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