The Progression Of Rams Quarterback Jared Goff
When pressure is applied, an object can either break or it can adjust. Certain amounts of pressure can create coal, or it can create a diamond.
Apply the pressure of a losing team that’s been freshly relocated. This team has the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Los Angeles Rams pick Jared Goff. After two years of pressure, coal or diamond?
Pressure is not something that is unfamiliar to Goff. He was a mid-year enrollee to the University of California-Berkley. In 2012, Cal was sitting second from the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference with a 3-9 overall record and nearly non-existent nationally amongst the likes of Stanford and Oregon. In January 2013, Goff started practicing with the Cal team despite offers from Boise State, Fresno State, and Washington State. His father, Jerry Goff, is a former member of the Golden Bears baseball team.
In August, Goff was given the starting quarterback position, making him the first true freshman in Cal history to start in a season opener. His team went 1-11 that year. That didn’t stop him from breaking five school records and ranking him as a top QB early in his career. Goff finished the 2013 season with a 60.3 percent completion record, 18 touchdown passes, and 10 interceptions. He set the record for single-season passing yards at 3,508 and passes completed at 320.
In 2014, Cal improved to an overall 5-7 record. Jared Goff was the catalyst. That year versus the Colorado Buffaloes, Goff tossed a career-high 7 touchdown passes and went 25-of-42 for 458 yards. A few weeks later Cal squeaked by a tough rival, Washington St., in a 60-59 win. Goff had a career-high and another school record of 527 total yards with five touchdowns. He finished the season with 35 touchdowns and a 62 percent completion rating.
Bringing a team from one win to five to a winning record of 8-5 is something unique. In 2015, Goff sealed his fate. That was the first winning season for Cal since 2011 and their first post-season appearance since 2008. Goff was projected as the top QB in the 2016 NFL Draft.
That season Goff shattered record books, earned the Pac-12 Player of the Week, twice, and became the first Cal player since Aaron Rodgers (2004) to be named first team All-Pac-12 honors.
He also set a Pac-12 single-season record for passing yards with 4,714 and touchdown passes. Goff recorded 43 touchdowns that season, 96 for his college career.
The toughest loss in his three years was that Goff never had a rival win against Stanford, USC, or Oregon, although his talent and poise did test them. Cal went on to win the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl behind Goff’s six touchdowns and 467 yards. He surpassed his senior year and entered the draft.
The Rams signed Goff to a 4-year $27.9 million contract with an $18.6 million signing bonus, after selecting him first overall.
In conversations leading up to the 2016 draft, there were some doubts about Goff, coming from an unstable program like Cal with a somewhat unpolished canon arm. His highlights included being able to produce under pocket pressure and progress through reads quickly since Cal was lacking in their offensive line.
It was familiar territory to Jared Goff, joining a team with a losing record and no playoff appearances since 2004. But this time around, Goff left his team with more questions than answers.
His rookie season was faulty. Goff was originally named a back-up for Case Keenum, but was later named the starter halfway through the season.
In his first game, versus the Dolphins, Goff went 17-of-31 for 134 yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions. These low numbers continued through the rest of the season. The Rams finished 4-12 overall. Goff recorded 112-of-205 completions for 1,089 yards, five passing touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Considering the difference between the NFL and college and the irony of opportunity for Keenum, the 22-year-old Goff had time on his side.
The next year the Rams hired Sean McVay, making him the youngest head coach in NFL history. It also made McVay and Goff the youngest head coach-starting QB duo in the league.
Twice the pressure.
In week one versus the Indianapolis Colts, Goff earned his first NFL win. Goff went 21-of-29 for 306 yards in a 46-9 blowout. The kid was back.
Three games later, Goff notched an upset win over the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Houston Texans, Goff earned the spotlight after throwing a 94-yard touchdown to Robert Woods.
In a pivotal game against the New York Giants, Goff shined even more. He racked up 311 yards and four touchdowns. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. The Rams were looking like a completely different team than the previous year.
About halfway through the 2017 season, the Rams were atop the NFC West with a 7-2 overall record and a 32.9 points per game average (compared to the previous seasons’ 14 PPG). As an official L.A. team, the Rams had won 11 games and Goff was a starting QB for seven of them.
It was the shine of a diamond.
Goff proved he was able to avoid the blitz, create passes between defenders, run, and create and read option tricks. He was sacked a total of 26 times in 2016, but only 10 in the first seven games of 2017. He dropped a 47-yard pass to Sammy Watkins between two defenders. He even ran for 45-yards.
The Rams clinched the NFC West for the first time since 2003. They lost in a fight to the Atlanta Falcons, who went on to lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champs in the divisional round.
Goff’s numbers were a complete improvement from the previous season. He finished with 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns, the same amount of interceptions from his rookie season, and a 62.1 percent completion percentage.
He was named to his first Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Carson Wentz, his rival QB. Goff led the league in yards per pass completions. The Rams finished the season 11-5.
For the upcoming 2018 season, there is only up from here.
Although the Rams have lost Watkins, they gained an impeccable Brandin Cooks, who is among the best wide receivers in the league. They still have a growing Todd Gurley. They also have a growing defense. The Rams managed to pick up one of the best defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh, plus added cornerback Marcus Peters and cornerback Aqib Talib via trade.
Moving from a bottom team to a top team means the Rams will have a tougher schedule. It’s projected as the fifth-toughest in the league. Although, about half the teams they will face finished around the .500 mark last season. One of their toughest games will be against the reigning Super Bowl Champs, the Philadelphia Eagles, and a possible 100-percent healthy Wentz. Last year, Goff fumbled late, resulting in a close loss.
The Rams will also have to face the Oakland Raiders, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. They are all possible playoff-bound opponents with legit QBs.
More pressure. More opportunity to adjust.
Jared Goff is a bigger diamond in the making.