Jared Goff has had his critics ever since being drafted first overall in 2016. Many people believed that he wasn’t worth being the number one overall pick, and then he was scrutinized even more after being selected considering how much the then-St. Louis Rams had given up to move up to the top spot. He then began his rookie year on the bench which fueled speculation that maybe the Rams made a mistake. Goff ultimately made his debut nine games into the season and was horrendous in his seven starts, which solidified himself as a “bust” to a large portion of the NFL community and fans.
Then Sean McVay was hired, and the then-rookie head coach turned not only Jared Goff, but the entire Rams franchise around. He was, and is, the perfect type of hiring when trying to develop a young franchise quarterback. You need to pair these young passers with offensive minds to help them grow, but the Rams failed to do that with Goff, instead, giving him Jeff Fisher.
But Goff took a big step forward in 2017, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards, completing 62.1% of his passes, and threw 28 touchdowns to just seven interceptions in 15 games, good for a passer rating of over 100, making him one of the few to do so last season. And he wasn’t just dinking-and-dunking. He averaged eight yards-per-attempt, lead the NFL in yards-per-completion, and had a better Average Air Yards Completed than the likes of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Cam Newton, Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, and a 2017 Case Keenum. And in doing so, Goff made his first Pro Bowl roster and helped lead the Rams to their first NFC West title in 14 years.
People started to be less harsh on him, but still did not give him the credit he earned, instead implying he was a one-year wonder and that the league will have figured he and McVay’s offense out, so he won’t have the same amount of success. And heading into this season, critics wanted to see the former-top pick have another strong year to prove he wasn’t a fluke, and through the first two games, he had thrown for 587 yards on a 64.6% completion rate, three scores, and a pick. And this is considering the first half of the season’s opener was him merely trying to shake off the rust after not playing in the preseason.
But the criticism then shifted to him being strictly a “system quarterback” that was striving because of Sean McVay’s brilliant offensive schemes. He just can’t catch a break, and credit to the Cal product, who didn’t let his ego get in the way.
“Yeah, I’ll be a product of the system if we win games, as much as I want. We just continue to go out there and keep playing, keep putting up 30 points and call me whatever you want,” Goff said Wednesday.
And his head coach had his back.
“Yeah, I mean Jared is the one making the plays. It’s our job as coaches to try to put him in position and our players make the plays. I think that’s a total discredit to him and all the different things that he’s doing,” McVay said. “I mean he’s making the throws, he’s making the calls at the line of scrimmage, he’s making the calls in the huddle. So, I think it’s our job as a coaching staff to collaborate and try to put together plans on a weekly basis that give our players a chance to have success. But, ultimately I know this, you’re a lot better coach when you’re working with players like Jared Goff and I feel really fortunate to work with him.”
And before their matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward, who was arguably the best cornerback in the NFL last season, had this to say on the Rams quarterback.
“People just say it’s the scheme, but nah, he’s making throws all over the field.”
And all Goff did was go out and ball, throwing for 354 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 14 to get a first down. He completed 29 of 36 passes, and at one point completing 13-straight; the incompletion that ended the streak was a simple drop. The signal-caller also ended up with 18 passing first downs, and throughout the game, he was making a handful of spectacular throws, helping to debunk the “system QB” myth. His left tackle Andrew Whitworth chimed in.
Just a System QB throw… 🤷🏻♂️ https://t.co/9LS4xKEtaR
— Andrew Whitworth (@awhitworth77) September 24, 2018
And as perfect as that throw was, it may not have even been his best throw of the afternoon. That honor goes this third-down play to receiver Cooper Kupp in the 3rd quarter.
If you weren’t already a Jared Goff believer, this throw will probably change your mind. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/4fDJbNcVBU
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) September 23, 2018
That play was all Jared Goff improvising on the run and not “a product of the system.” It takes talent to makes these plays.
“I had gone through all my reads, four or five of them, and I was completely off schedule,” Goff said later. “Then Cooper flashed — that was just him being a football player — and I was able to get it there.”
And his receiver chimed in:
“It was 100 percent off schedule. Like, double off schedule. But he got me the ball, and that definitely doesn’t happen if Jared’s not willing to hang in there as long as he did.”
McVay furthered addressed the comments from earlier in the week.
“Saying he’s a system player — that’s just disrespectful,” McVay told journalist Michael Silver after the game. “It’s a total discredit to a great player. Those who know, know. Flip the tape on. People who know what it looks like to play the quarterback position at a high level know what they’re seeing.
I’d argue that the relationship between the two is a symbiotic one because they are the perfect complements for each other. McVay needs someone young with Goff’s type of brain, consistency, arm, and accuracy while Goff needs someone like McVay who will put him in the position to take advantage of his strengths, and the coach echoed a similar sentiment.
“I know this: I wouldn’t want to be working with anybody else other than Jared Goff right now.”
And if we are going to scrutinize Goff for being a product of McVay’s system, why don’t we mention that the reason he was so terrible as a rookie was that he was in the terrible system of Jeff Fisher? His biggest critics like to gloss over the fact that Fisher literally almost ruined the young QB. Case Keenum and Nick Foles are other quarterbacks, although not as talented as Goff, who have strived away from Fisher.
People may not be as high on Goff because he is not of the breed of a Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and Patrick Maholmes, who are athletic, strong, and mobile, with excellent arm strength. Goff is a timing quarterback who makes his throws in rhythm with anticipation. He may not have an elite arm, but it’s a very good one, and the 23-year-old has elite intermediate accuracy and anticipation combined with excellent touch. And last year, he showed he could make the downfield throws. And again, Jared Goff is the one making all the reads and throws, not McVay; you still need to have talent and IQ to make the plays that he does. The 941 passing yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, and 70.3% completion rate through three games don’t just happen because of a system.
And if we are honest, all quarterbacks are the products of the system that their coaching staff builds for them. It’s just up to the front office to find the right match of coach and signal-caller. The quarterbacks that are having the most success right now are in the perfect situation, and probably would not have the same level of success elsewhere. But that is the symbiotic part of the relationship; you can’t give all the credit to just the coach or quarterback. They are a team, and Team McGoff is silencing the doubters.