Is Jared Goff hurting the Rams?
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
One year removed from the 13-3 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots the Los Angeles Rams find themselves in a difficult position after a disappointing 2019 season, finishing third in the NFC West at 9-7. Although the Rams reside in potentially the toughest division in the NFL, have a diminished offensive line, cut Todd Gurley and epitomise average, the biggest part of the Rams problems is quarterback Jared Goff. In 2017 and 2018 Jared Goff looked like a franchise quarterback but given 2019 hindsight it becomes blatantly evident he was a product of McVay’s system, a top offensive line and Todd Gurley’s greatness. However, the Rams front office already handed Goff a 4-year $134 million contract extension in September 2019 with $110 million guaranteed. So, heading into the 2020 season the Rams have a very average roster overall, lack youth and future due to trading away previous draft picks, have an offensive system that the league has all the tape on and has begun to find a way to stop and the 3rd highest paid quarterback who in my opinion is the 17th best in the NFL.
Had Todd Gurley never got injured this may never have even become a conversation. All it takes is a quick look at Goff’s numbers with Gurley compared to those without him.
2017 – 11-4 record
Gurley – 2,093 scrimmage yards, 19 total touchdowns, Pro Bowler and 1st Team All-Pro
Goff – 3,804 passing yards, 62.1% completion, 28 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and Pro Bowler
2018 – 13-3 record
Gurley – 1,831 scrimmage yards, 21 total touchdowns, Pro Bowler and 1st Team All-Pro
Goff – 4,688 passing yards, 64.9% completion, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and Pro Bowler
2019 – 9-7 record
Gurley – 1,064 scrimmage yards, 14 total touchdowns
Goff - 4638 passing yards, 62.9% completion, 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions
Hence, its undeniable that Todd Gurley clearly had a huge affect on Goff’s productivity. However, like Gurley the offensive line also fell off from their elite play in the 2018 season and resulted in Goff’s entire 2019 season looking like his 2018 Super Bowl performance. It’s very visible Goff panics in the pocket when pressured by real rushers or those in his head causing him to make some poor decisions. Unfortunately for Goff and the Rams I can’t see that offensive line playing any better in 2020 or future years without investing considerable compensation into it, hence, unless Goff learns to stand tall in the face of pressure and deliver the ball downfield his 2019 season is going to become a regularity in Los Angeles, which by no metric is good. In 2019, Goff was 16th in 3rd-down completion percentage, 23rd in QBR behind Daniel Jones, Josh Allen and Jameis Winston who threw 30 interceptions and 21st in Quarterback Rating behind the likes of Case Keenum, Gardener Minshew, Phillip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett. So, ifs Goff’s 2020 and 2021 season are similar to that of his 2019 campaign as I predict, the Rams will find themselves vastly overpaying for a quarterback who I could easily see fall past 20th best in the league.
In Goff’s defense not all of Los Angeles’ contract problems are due to him. They have invested considerable money and draft picks in their roster, and it has come back to haunt them. Whilst Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL and like the Rams, I would’ve have paid him, but regardless $22.5 million annually is huge amount of money. Obviously offensive line is a big problem for the Rams, and I like Havenstein at $8 million annually, however, Whitworth at $10 million annually given his age and regression is in my opinion a poor allocation of cap space. Further, probably their most pressing problems are Cooper Kupp and Jalen Ramsey. Assuming Kupp isn’t intending to reset the receiver market and understands where he sits amongst receivers, I expect him to receive around $16 million annually. The same cannot be said for Ramsey. Ramsey is in my opinion the current 2nd best corner in the NFL who I believe will eventually take the mantel as the best from Stephon Gilmore. Not only this but the Rams gave up two first-round picks and a 4th rounder to acquire Ramsey giving him huge leverage against the team. Hence, I personally would not be surprised if he gets made the highest paid cornerback in NFL history by $2-3 million placing him around $18.5-19.5 million annually. So, when you truly grasp an understanding of the Rams entire cap situation it is not just Goff’s contract that is restricting them now and moving forward.
Although personally I do not have the greatest hopes for Jared Goff and the Rams in the next few years that does not mean I do not believe Goff is a capable quarterback. Goff has won a lot of games as a starting quarterback regardless of whether he was the primary cause of that, he also throws a very good football and despite having 4 years of starting experience is still only 25 years old. However, making him the 3rd highest paid quarterback in the NFL was a huge mistake by the Rams front office and one they will continue to pay for numerous years. Only in 2022 would it be plausible for the Rams to move off Goff as the dead money $15.4 million would be less than the cap savings $17.2 million.
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Image by: Praveer Sharma