Sean McVay can’t coddle Jared Goff forever. The protective seal which McVay has wrapped around Goff is already showing signs of cracking. At a certain point, McVay will grow tired of swaddling the Los Angeles Rams quarterback in intellectual bubble wrap.
Goff has been a good quarterback in McVay’s offense. But so many quarterbacks could be better. Super Bowl LIII was yet another example of Goff’s shortcomings as a student of football. Bill Belichick is brilliant — he stumped Goff. But Belichick isn’t the only one — far from it. The Rams quarterback hasn’t been good over the last eight weeks.
Belichick made Goff look like a rookie, but, of course, the quarterback is in his third year. Ant that’s notable because he’s entering an offseason when the Rams will, in all likelihood, pick up his fifth-year option. That will pay him out big for the 2020 season — he’ll play out 2019 on the terms of his rookie contract. After that, it would be crazy for the Rams to pay big for the quarterback.
This isn’t to say they should make their decision now. Tom Brady had significant shortcomings in his early career. Plenty of quarterbacks have progressed with patience. But if Goff shows no signs of progress, then the Rams should have faith in McVay to develop a more capable quarterback, if Goff appears to land in the quarterback tier that’s just a hair above Blake Bortles.
Those still defending Goff need to recognize the weakness which Belichick preyed upon in Super Bowl LIII. Goff has struggled to diagnose defenses at the line of scrimmage without McVay. McVay can feed Goff audibles at the line of scrimmage through the headset. When the headset cut out with 15 seconds left on the play clock — or it cut out because of typical technological issues — Goff looked like a toddler without his diaper. Belichick’s veterans on the front-seven adjusted their look — Goff couldn’t read it. What good is a quarterback who can’t read defenses at the line of scrimmage? And the Patriots racked up four sacks, 12 quarterback hits, eight deflections and a game-ending interception. The Rams scored 3 points after averaging 32.9 per game during the regular season.
McVay clearly feels like he has to over-coach Goff. The first person to talk to Goff when he hit the field for Super Bowl LIII was McVay. McVay walked over to his quarterback, and had 60 seconds worth of thoughts to share. Most quarterbacks get a moment to breathe when they’re warming up — Goff spent seconds on the turf before McVay got in his ear. Maybe McVay’s a helicopter parent. Maybe it’s necessary.
So as the Rams enter the next two years with Goff, they can spend that time looking for a better prospect in the coming draft classes. They can trade Goff or let his contract expire. (They can opt into the fifth year option for 2020, but they can bail at any point prior to the first day of the league year in 2020.) Even more awkward, the Rams could draft a prospect to compete with Goff.
Unless Goff shows significant progress in game intellect and decision-making, the Rams should prepare to find someone who can better operate McVay’s system, or can operate it similarly at a fraction of what his cost will be in a few years.