Hello, I apologize in advance for going all “blog boy” and writing in the first person but this is a special occasion. Jared Goff, like Eminem, has said goodbye to Hollywood and is now on his way to Detroit. It’s a moment that I feel like I’m always going to remember because it marked the end of a part of my Rams writing career. I swear this won’t be totally about me but while I’m in selfish mode please rate and subscribe to my podcast “LA Podfiential” it’s a great show. Anyway, Jared Goff was the first and basically the only quarterback I’ve covered (from afar) and someone who indirectly made me a better writer and fan (if you can believe it, I used to be worse).
Prior to 2017, I was a mediocre (at best) entertainment writer who happened to love the Rams. One day I decided that instead of doing my in-depth analysis via Twitter while watching a game on a barstool (RIP All-Stars) so I wrote for a now-defunct site that was Ramscentric and heading into that season Jared Goff became a subject of fascination for me.
To fans just joining the party or ones not quite old enough, Jared Goff, whether you love him or not was easily the best quarterback the Rams have had since Marc Bulger. It didn’t start out that way, of course, because from the moment the Rams announced they were trading multiple firsts for him, when, if I’m being honest, they could’ve probably waited at 10 because I didn’t think the Titans or any team was really THAT serious about him, the pressure was on.
I was still into PAC-12 football back then and had no real recollection of him being a badass at CAL. He wasn’t spoken about the same way that Deshaun Watson or Matthew Stafford were discussed coming out of college. I remember checking my phone at a red light (I know bad habit) and seeing that trade and having to be honked into moving because I was in shock. Had Les Snead learned NOTHING after getting Washington to do the same thing? In hindsight, this move makes much more sense given the Rams philosophy of “F*$! DEM PICKS”.
What further compounded the confusion was Jeff Fisher believing it was 1921 and rookies needed to be seen and not heard. Goff never got any first-team reps which he sorely needed and so when Fisher had to start him at gunpoint, Goff looked like a rookie that never got any first-team reps, and on top of that, the Jeff Fisher offense was created around the same time as McKinleynomics.
After alienating everyone in LA, especially Eric Dickerson, Jeff Fisher was fired and Sean McVay was in. That’s when I started covering the Rams and thank God those articles are likely scrubbed from the internet because they would always devolve into the same points of “McVay’s only job is to salvage Goff, the lack of firsts will hurt them, why the hell did we tag Trumaine Johnson, and the Rams have too many Jared Goffs, please eliminate one of them…I am not a crackpot”.
Of course, the angry ramblings gave way to something resembling optimism because guess what? Goff didn’t suck. Sure, the Rams rode Gurley to an 11-5 season with a dumb round-one loss to Atlanta, but hey, they won the west! The next year was proof that Goff could lead a team to a Super Bowl but unfortunately, they couldn’t win for reasons that would continue to plague Goff. Despite turning it around in 2017 and 2018 he still had the same problems. He struggled when his first read was taken away, he couldn’t handle four-man fronts, and because of his tiny hands, he had trouble holding onto the ball.
Despite that, I would write once a year (three times this season) about how Jared Goff could be saved. I along with a dwindling number of fans kept hanging our pro-Goff hats on the Vikings and Chiefs game in 2018, the NFC Championship, and a couple of times in 2019 where he looked like a starter. The problem was those games became fewer and far between so it became sillier to cite those games because the distance was becoming greater than the distance between “Avatar” and “Avatar 2”.
This season eliminated all of his 2019 excuses. The line was better, the defense was becoming legendary, and the running game was revived. YET, he still cost the Rams at least four games. It sucks, but it’s true and what’s worse is fans could tell within the first drive what Goff we were getting. McVay decided it was better to have Malcolm Brown do a screen on 3rd and 17 then have Goff huck it, which is DAMNING. And yet, in the playoffs with his thumb twelve days removed from surgery, he ran the offense with great efficiency. Like Champ Kind, he was clearly tired of the putdowns and tired of people clamoring for John Wolford and had a fire lit under him for the first time ever. Unfortunately, it was too little too late.
Even I turned on him and I had carried water for him A LOT. He begrudgingly became my guy, he really did. I went from making fun of him on a regular basis to half-heartedly defending him to non-fans, and then finally becoming a Little League parent whenever someone would attack him.
To quote Dewey Cox, Jared Goff was a “beautiful ride” and he gave us the good walk and the hard walk. For the first time in eons, the Rams had a quarterback they could rally around and gave fans hope. He had a ceiling that smarter fans than I saw coming a mile away, but I let my guard down damn it. But at the end of the day, he wasn’t the guy to take them to the promised land.
Hopefully, in Detroit, he won’t be held to the standards of his contract given he’s going to a rebuilding situation. As frustrating as he was, I wish him well. It’s not his fault Tony Pastoors gives out ill-fated extensions like he’s giving out candy. He wasn’t a franchise quarterback but McVay tried to make him one, and like George Clooney’s goal to become a great director, it wasn’t going to happen.
I’ll still miss Goff. I grew as a writer as he grew as a quarterback and we both hit our ceilings in 2018, but Goff’s was more noticeable. He helped take me from someone whose angry Brian Schottenheimer tweets will cost me fame or public office to someone that could pretend he knows what he’s talking about. I’m excited for the Matthew Stafford which could get the Rams over the hump or be a beautiful disaster. Either way, it’ll be fun to write about and I promise not to use first-person again until the Rams win a title. Thank you for reading and goodbye Jared Goff, HELLOOOOO STAFFORD!