It’s safe to say things haven’t gone according to plan for Sean McVay and the Rams this season. They entered the year with Super Bowl expectations, but instead they find themselves in a dogfight to qualify for the postseason. A big part of the team’s struggles can be tied to the ineffective play of quarterback Jared Goff.
Last year a debate raged over whether Goff was a good quarterback or if his stellar play was simply a byproduct of McVay’s brilliant offensive system. Rams fans yearn for that debate to be relevant again. The former No. 1 overall pick is only completing a shade over 61% of his passes which marks the lowest rate since his rookie season. Perhaps more concerning for McVay and his coaching staff, Goff is only managing to average 7.5 yards per pass attempt.
He’s also struggling to protect the football for his team. Goff has already thrown seven interceptions in eight games this season. He finished the 2018 campaign with just 12 picks in his full 16-game slate.
Bad quarterback play is always impossible to ignore, but Goff’s contract makes it even more of an issue in Los Angeles. The Rams are paying him like a legitimate top-10 quarterback in the NFL. He signed a lucrative four-year, $134 million deal this season that includes over $110 million in guaranteed money. To put it bluntly, the Rams are committed to Goff as their starting quarterback of the present and future.
The natural question then becomes if and when Rams fans can expect Goff to live up to his contract. The ugly truth is that the odds are stacked against him ever truly justifying his current salary. Even if you aren’t inclined to believe his excellent 2018 campaign was totally dependent on McVay’s system, it was obviously a signficant factor. When you watch Goff on tape it’s difficult to envision him ever being anything more than a league average quarterback based on his physical abilities and mental understanding of the game.
That doesn’t mean the Rams can’t reasonably expect Goff to provide the franchise much more value in the near future though. No matter what you think about his skill set, the poor play of his offensive line has been a huge factor in his struggles this season. Goff doesn’t have the athleticism to scramble around and make plays outside the pocket. He, more than a lot of his peers, requires a clean pocket to throw from if he’s going to be successful.
If the Rams do want to see their investment in Goff pay off in the future, they’ll need to completely revamp the group of players charged with protecting him. In particular, the interior positions need a lot of attention from the front office. Goff’s decision-making becomes really poor when he is plagued by pressure up the middle. Los Angeles needs to be in the market for new starters at guard and center this offseason.
If the offensive line can be successfully rebuilt, the Rams should hope for Goff’s performance to return to the levels they saw in 2018. Based on the numbers, that will make his contract look a lot more reasonable. If they fail to address the problem sufficiently, the contract they’ve handed their young quarterback is going to continue to look worse and worse as time goes on.
Any Rams fan that hopes Goff is going to magically transform into a top-five quarterback is doomed to be disappointed. He simply doesn’t have that kind of talent. He can, however, in the right system produce statistics like a top-10 player at his position. That’s the best the Rams can hope for with him at the controls of their offense both now and in the future.