THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Jared Goff stepped up in the pocket and fired a bullet, roughly 30 yards down the field, right into the hands of Robert Woods on a post route. Earlier, he hit Nelson Spruce for a long touchdown. And leading up to that impressive throw to Woods, he made crisp, accurate passes to Tyler Higbee and Cooper Kupp as part of a two-minute drill.
It’s only organized team activities, which means players are not in pads and live contact is not permitted, but Goff looked good on Monday.
Rams rookie head coach Sean McVay is nonetheless reserving judgement.
“Until you’re actually live as a quarterback, that’s when you truly get challenged,” McVay said. “You’re having to move with the rush, avoid guys that can really tackle you. That’s always the best evaluator. I think he has done a nice job improving every single day, and that’s what’s going to give us a chance.”
Goff, with a 22.2 Total QBR in his brief NFL career, began his offseason by receiving instruction from noted quarterback guru Tom House. And ever since the official offseason program began, the 22-year-old has immersed himself into McVay’s offense, spending almost every possible waking minute at the Rams’ facility. McVay said he has been “very pleased” with what Goff has done “above the neck.”
His teammates have noticed more confidence, more conviction.
“You can tell, especially just starting with the command of the offense, him being able to take that and control the huddle and get guys lined up, and keep that poise when things aren’t going well and when things are going well,” said Higbee, Goff’s roommate throughout training camp last year. “He looks good.”
“More confident, more relaxed, more poised in the pocket” is how second-year receiver Mike Thomas compared this year’s Goff to last year’s Goff. “Letting the game come to him and taking his time, being patient on the field.”
Goff is benefiting from having an entire NFL season under his belt and knowing from the start that he will be the starting quarterback — but he must perform in order to keep his job.
McVay wasn’t around when the Rams moved up 14 spots to draft Goff No. 1 overall last spring. It means he has no real loyalties to Goff, who struggled mightily over the course of seven rookie starts, all of them losses. If Goff doesn’t show signs that he is making significant strides toward at least becoming a reliable starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, McVay probably won’t have a hard time turning to his backup, Sean Mannion, a third-round pick from 2015 who hasn’t had much of any playing time yet.
McVay often has said he and his staff will “constantly evaluate guys.”
Starting fresh allows him to keep an open mind at every position, including quarterback.
“Jared is our guy; we have a lot of confidence in what he’s done,” McVay stressed after Monday’s practice. “But we have confidence in Sean as well. … We’re going to play the guys that give us the ability to win football games and the guys that are competing at the highest level. Clearly, Jared has done that so far. It’s a one-day-at-a-time process, but what he has done is just pick things up. He’s getting better every single day, and he has definitely commanded that role. He did that again today.”