The first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft looked like a total bust after his rookie season. Two years later, Jared Goff will be playing in Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots. So how did the quarterback who went 0-7 as a starter two seasons ago lead the Rams to the Super Bowl? There were several key factors in his development from rookie to Super Bowl Starter.
The Hiring of Sean McVay
Under Jeff Fisher, Goff didn’t win a game and threw just five touchdowns in his seven starts. However, in his first year playing for Sean McVay, his numbers drastically improved. Goff threw 23 more touchdowns while throwing just seven interceptions, the same amount he threw as a rookie. His completion percentage also rose eight percentage points and his yards per attempt improved from 5.3 to 8.
Having a coach who could play to Goff’s strengths and assist him with making the reads on the defense had a large impact on his improvement. McVay talks to Goff all the way up until the cut-off at 15 seconds left on the play clock. This allows McVay to read the defense and give advice to Goff on how to attack it. Having Sean McVay has seemed to fix all of the decision-making issues Goff had as a rookie and turned him into a franchise quarterback for Los Angeles.
The Emergence of a Running Game
In 2016, the Rams were 31st in the league in rushing yards. Todd Gurley looked like an emerging star as a rookie. However, in his second season he failed to break 1,000 yards and only had 6 touchdowns. This is the only time in his career he didn’t cross the 1,000-yard mark and have double-digit touchdowns. Los Angeles was 8th in the league in rushing in 2017, and 3rd in 2018.
The increase in production from Todd Gurley, and C.J. Anderson in the postseason, has made Goff’s job much easier. McVay’s offense is built on play-action. According to Football Outsiders, the Rams used play-action the second most frequently in the 2017 season. Play-action is more effective with a dangerous rushing attack. Todd Gurley has opened up passing lanes for Goff and played a large part in his improvement.
The Addition of Legitimate Weapons
As a rookie, Goff’s top three receivers were Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, and Tavon Austin. None of those three are receiving a lot of snaps in 2018. Now, he has been given Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks. Kupp has been hurt for the second half of this season, but he has been one of the most consistent targets in the league since being drafted in 2017. Woods isn’t a star, but does everything well. Finally, Cooks can stretch the field, making big plays for the Rams, but also opening up the underneath routes for other receivers.
Goff didn’t have much to work with as a rookie and that contributed to his struggles. He is a perfect example of why fans and experts should not condemn or anoint quarterbacks after one season. Now that he has been given a real system with talent around him, Goff looks like the guy the Rams hoped he would be when they took him with the first pick.