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Rams QB Jared Goff: A Bust in the Making?

September 5th, 2016 · No Comments · Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL

The opening weeks of their second stay in Los Angeles may not be going quite as well as the Rams would have hoped.

Remember how they traded up to get the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft? Ahead of their first season back in Los Angeles? The dramatic move clearly was intended to create some buzz around the team that has returned to Southern California after 21 seasons in St. Louis.

The Rams sent a pile of high draft picks — two first-rounders, two seconds and two thirds — to the Tennessee Titans so they could move from 15th in the first round to the top of the draft and select Cal quarterback Jared Goff, thought by some to be a can’t-miss star.

Turns out, many already are suggesting Goff is on his way to being a “bust”. Which may also say something about the Rams organization and its inability to produce competitive teams over the past decade.

(The Rams failed to post a winning record in their final nine seasons in St. Louis, going 42-101-1 from 2007 to 2015, and did not reach the playoffs in their final 11 seasons in Saint Loo.)

I have not seen Goff play; I live in France, where the NFL is widely ignored. But I stumbled across a preview of the National Football Conference West division on The Guardian’s website today, and the headline reads: “Is Jared Goff already a bust?

So, I did a little investigating for you … seeing which other online sources are suggesting the Rams are at risk of having spent big on a guy who not only will not be a superstar … but may have trouble getting into the starting lineup at all.

–The Guardian notes that Goff enters his rookie season not as the starter (that would be Case Keenum) nor even as the backup (that would be second-year pro Sean Mannion), and that seems a bit alarming. The author wrote: “Hailed as the quarterback of the future, it was assumed that [Goff] would ease into the role of the starter during the season — not right away, but eventually. Then we saw him play professional football. Sure, it was the preseason, but of the three QBs at camp for the Rams … Goff looked the worst, not only technically, but also in terms of poise and football intelligence.”

Then there is a school of thought that holds the Rams made a poor choice by taking Goff, a three-year starter at Cal who enjoyed only one winning season — an 8-5 performance last year. Overall, Cal was 15-23 when Goff started.

–CBSsports.com wrote: “When the Rams traded up to snag Goff, they likely knew that there would be an ugly adjustment period for their new quarterback. Goff … is adjusting to an NFL system after operating in an offense called the Bear Raid … They might not have expected the transition to be this ugly, though. Goff’s final preseason numbers? A 44.9 completion percentage, 4.7 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, two interceptions, three fumbles, and four sacks. That’s good enough for a 55.8 passer rating.”

(The Bear Raid offense is described here. In short, it’s a pass-heavy offense with the quarterback typically operating from the shotgun formation.)

–SBNation.com’s correspondent is not sure Goff will be a star, but he does seem sure the Rams are not well-suited to coach Goff into stardom. He wrote: “Here’s the problem. Who on the team’s coaching staff has any experience developing quarterbacks? [Coach Jeff] Fisher’s history with quarterbacks is abysmal. The offensive coordinator is a tight ends coach. Quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke has experience working with preparing draft picks at IMG Academy, but he’s never coached a quarterback in the NFL. Underscoring the coaching issue is the fact that Goff comes from an Air Raid offense in college, and Air Raid quarterbacks have not had much success in the NFL.”

(Air Raid equals Bear Raid and refers to the playing style — follow the link, above — popularized by Mike Leach, who scored tons of points with the offense while at Texas Tech.)

–The Sportster.com, a site with which I am not familiar, posted an item way back in May predicting Goff (as well as No. 2 pick Carson Wentz, a QB taken by the Philadelphia Eagles) would be a bust. He cited six reasons why each guy is likely to fail in the NFL. Goff’s include “small hands” … the pressure of expectations that comes from being the No. 1 pick in a big market … a lack of competent receivers to catch his passes … his losing record in college … no veteran QB in L.A. to mentor him … and the fact that the Rams have to play two excellent defensive teams (Seattle and Arizona) twice each every season.

Even nfl.com, run by the league and not prone to impulsive reactions, is questioning the Goff pick and, perhaps, his football IQ. After Goff’s second exhibition-game appearance, their reporter wrote: “Goff couldn’t find any rhythm. His ball placement was erratic and he never seemed confident.” And he added: “At this point the mental aspect of the game is coming slowly for the Cal grad. … It’s just two meaningless preseason games, but right now he doesn’t seem ready for the brightest lights in pro sports.”

So, Jared Goff … not going to be a star any time soon. Which is probably not what the Rams anticipated.

The fact that he is their third-string quarterback as their first season back in L.A. is about to begin, and likely will not be in uniform for the opener … well, this could turn out to be a major embarrassment for a club that wanted to get a fast start to the 2016 season — and life back in Los Angeles.

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