Can the Los Angeles Rams count on quarterback Jared Goff for the long haul?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams head into Thursday night’s Week 14 NFL game boasting an 8-4 record and in first place in the NFC West. Sean McVay’s squad is in the midst of a rebound season after missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2019.
However, it’s been more about the Rams’ defense than Jared Goff and the team’s offense. In fact, Los Angeles ranks fifth in the NFL in points allowed and 17th in points scored. It’s somewhat of a dramatic turnabout for offensive-minded head coach Sean McVay.
There’s also lingering questions about Jared Goff and his status as a potential franchise quarterback moving forward after signing a four-year, $134 million extension back in September of 2019. We’ll focus on that below.
Is Jared Goff the long-term answer for the Los Angeles Rams?
To say that there’s a lot of layers to this would be an understatement. General manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay certainly seem to think so. Goff, 26, is under contract for the next four years.
Los Angeles does not have a realistic out when it comes to releasing him until after the 2022 season. Not like the team was going to go this route in the first place.
Jared Goff contract (cap hits)
- 2021: $34.63 million2022: $32.3 million2023: $31.8 million2024: $27.8 million
Goff’s dead cap hits are $65.3 million and $32.3 million over the next two seasons, respectively. Sure, the Rams could trade him and see a lower dead cap hit, but that’s a huge financial commitment on the team’s part.
Even more so than the Jared Goff contract, this still-young signal-caller will be analyzed by the Rams’ front office based on the tape, his stats and the team’s on-field success.
While Los Angeles has had team-wide success with Goff under center, his stats have not been great since a disastrous performance in Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots.
Jared Goff stats
There’s been an obvious decline in production as the numbers suggest.
- 2017: 62.1% completion, 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns, seven interceptions (100.5 rating)2018: 64.9% completion, 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions (101.1 rating)2019: 62.9% completion, 4,638 yards, 22 touchdowns, 16 interceptions (86.5 rating)2020: 68.4% completion, 3,372 yards, 17 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (93.7 rating)
The simple fact that Jared Goff performed better as a sophomore in 2017 than he has over the past two seasons has to be seen as concerning for the Rams. Los Angeles’ regression on offense during this span adds another layer to this belief.
Los Angeles Rams stats under Jared Goff (points scored)
- 2017: 29.9 (1st)2018: 32.9 (2nd)2019: 24.6 (11th)2020: 25.1 (17th)
We’re talking about more than a touchdown difference per game from 2018 to 2020. Again, that has to be seen as alarming for the Rams’ brass.
However, not all of this is on Jared Goff. The 2018 iteration of this Rams offense included a pre-washed Todd Gurley at running back. It also included two 1,000-yard receivers in that of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. Of those three, only Woods remains in Los Angeles.
Alternatives to Jared Goff for the Rams
- At this point, it seems obvious that Goff is the Rams’ best option, at least for the next couple seasons. It would be hard to trade this contract in the first place. That doesn’t even take into account the dead cap hit Los Angeles would incur if it made this decision.On the off-chance that Jared Goff struggles throughout the remainder of the 2020 season and into the playoffs, there is a limited number of options for the Rams.Recently benched Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is a non-starter given the Rams passed up on him for Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL Draft. Potentially set to move on from the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo also isn’t an option. San Francisco will not trade him to the division rivals.If not those two, who? Former NFL MVP Matt Ryan could very well move on from the Atlanta Falcons next offseason. The same thing can be said for longtime Detroit Lions Pro Bowl quarterback Matthew Stafford. Heck, there’s a chance the Dallas Cowboys move on from Dak Prescott. These would be the Rams’ top options should they opt to move on from Jared Goff.
Bottom line: Rams are ‘stuck’ with Jared Goff
In today’s NFL, if you don’t have a top-10 signal-caller, you’re what armchair experts have deemed as being in quarterback purgatory. That’s exactly the situation these Rams find themselves in as it relates to Jared Goff.
The quarterback now has four more regular-season games, starting Thursday night in a Super Bowl rematch against the Patriots, to prove naysayers wrong. From there, he’ll have to step up should Los Angeles earn a playoff appearance.
But right now, there’s not a lot of confidence that Goff will be able to do just that.
This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.
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