This season marks the fifth of Jared Goff’s career as a quarterback in the NFL. Goff is entering a period of time where quarterbacks either start to reach their ceilings or they begin to morph into something masterful. If a quarterback does continue to develop, they either develop their minds into becoming a pre-snap diagnoser of defenses or they start to develop a feel for the game that engages post-snap that delivers results using physical attributes like escapability and arm strength to throw darts and deep touchdowns from outside the pocket. Basically, imagine Peyton Manning or Tom Brady’s style of play versus that of Russell Wilson.
However, if neither of these paths develop, quarterbacks plateau and become like Andy Dalton or Alex Smith who can run offenses and have good years but they cannot reliably lead teams deep into the playoffs or have great stat lines. Dalton and Smith mostly plateaued in their mid-20s. Put simply, if Goff doesn’t want to end up like Andy Dalton or Alex Smith, he needs to morph himself into a “Manning” over a “Wilson.”
Why Goff Needs To Be Like Peyton Manning
Athleticism Of Goff
Put simply, Goff isn’t exactly the most athletic quarterback in the NFL. While he can run on occasion, he doesn’t have the legs of Lamar Jackson, and while he is big, he doesn’t have the size of Cam Newton. Goff’s arm is solid but it doesn’t lead to throws that make people say “wow.” Also, his escapability doesn’t exactly match that of Russell Wilson or lead to throws like Aaron Rodgers. Basically, he doesn’t have the athleticism to make the offense hum with his scrambling ability.
Mind Of Goff
If Goff cannot become like Russell Wilson, his other options would be to hit his ceiling and “coast” as a mid-tier quarterback or he can amplify his focus on the mental aspect of the game. One ability of Goff that has never been in question is his ability to run an offense. Meaning, his ability to process information like play calls and spit it back out to the huddle in game-time situations.
If the memory and the ability to think clearly in tense moments is present, then he can learn and put that knowledge into action during games. This means he can memorize formations before games and learn what the perfect route or play call is that defeats the defense, audible to the correct play, and execute. Football then becomes like using flashcards and anyone who uses flashcards knows that one can learn hundreds or thousands of pieces of information with enough practice. Put simply, he could audible as effectively as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning if he were to put in the work.
Most would agree that as far as quarterbacks go, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are even less athletically gifted than Goff. The rare occasions that Manning or Brady would scramble up the field would often catch defenses completely off-guard. If Goff can get to a Manning-Brady level of mental awareness, his comparatively more athletic body would be even more troublesome for defenses on the rare occasions when he would need to scramble. The combination of mental awareness and some athletic ability could make Goff into what could be an upgrade from the best of the last era of NFL quarterbacks.
From Here To There
The biggest change for Goff would need to be a shift into the mindset that “tape is life.” Manning was, and Brady is, one of the biggest “tapeaholics” in the NFL. They were both notorious for religiously watching tape whether it was before practice, after practice, before bed, first thing in the morning, in the ice bath, in the taxicab, or in any other spare moment available. Goff needs to ingrain this approach into his life.
“In the end, Jared Goff’s development will simply not continue as time passes unless he actively pursues the correct path.”
As for Head Coach Sean McVay, he needs to play an active role in helping Goff develop. The main way he can help is to start to lengthen the leash on Goff. McVay is lauded as an offensive genius but in order for Goff to take the next step, he has to let him have more control of the offense like changing a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage if the defense is lined up a certain way even though it may be emotionally difficult for him to do so.
One way to do this would be to let him take complete control of the audibles for a section of time per game. For example, McVay could allow Goff to have control over every second down or for every first quarter. The method does not matter as long as Goff gets the ability to get some experience and grow at a consistent pace while also not costing games. If there are mistakes, there would be enough time to recover during the game. This switch could also help the offense in the end because, like any coach-quarterback duo, McVay and Goff have different preferences for plays they like at different moments which could confuse defenses as the playcalling would become even less predictable.
It Is Time
In the next two or three years, Goff will either become a vastly superior quarterback compared to what he is now by becoming Peyton-Manning-like in his preparation or he will struggle to try to become Russell Wilson. If he goes the route of Russell Wilson or if he decides to try to stay the course by “just getting better,” this moment will be looked back on as the time when he hit his ceiling. In the end, Jared Goff’s development will simply not continue as time passes unless he actively pursues the correct path.