It’s going to be a very different 2021 for the team from Los Angeles that reached the NFL playoffs in 2020.
Back in 2016, the Rams made their return to Los Angeles after 21 seasons in St. Louis. The franchise also gave up plenty to move up to the top spot of the NFL Draft to secure the services of University of California quarterback Jared Goff. Under then-head coach Jeff Fisher and later John Fassel, it was a rough start for the young signal-caller. He played and started the team’s final seven games and hit on just 54.6 percent of his throws, good for just 1,089 yards and five scores. But he served up seven interceptions, lost two of his five fumbles, and was sacked 26 times.
Enter Sean McVay in 2017 and Goff was transformed. The team would capture the NFC West and the second-year pro excelled, his completion percentage jumped to 62.1. He totaled 3,804 yards through the air and four times as many touchdown passes (28) as picks (7). All told, Goff committed 10 turnovers in 15 games, then threw for 259 yards and one TD, and played turnover-free football in the playoff loss to the Falcons.
A year later, the Rams would eventually wind up in Super Bowl LIII and Goff finished with a career-best 32 TD passes. But a closer look shows that his issues with turnovers began down the stretch in 2018. In his first 10 outings, he threw for 3,134 yards and 22 touchdowns. There were just six total turnovers, all interceptions. But his last six regular-season outings saw him connect for 10 scores and six interceptions. But there were also eight fumbles, five of which he lost. Including the divisional playoffs and NFC title games, Goff fumbled at least once in eight consecutive games. In the team’s three-game postseason run, there was one TD pass and two more interceptions.
In the last two seasons (2019-20), the talented performer has played a total of 33 games, including this year’s playoff split with the Seahawks and Packers. There’s been a total of 44 touchdown passes as well as 38 turnovers.
And now Goff is headed to the Motor City in a trade that sends Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles and the Lions a slew of draft choices (once the deal becomes official in mid-March). Will the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft be an upgrade over the initial selection in the ’16 draft? That remains to be seen. And perhaps general manager Les Snead and McVay felt that Goff had peaked? In any case, the Rams have opted for a different quarterback. Will it pay off for a different ending to a season?