It seems like an eternity ago when Sean McVay came to the Los Angeles Rams highly touted as the man to “fix” Jared Goff. Goff was coming off a historically bad rookie season, a campaign that began with Goff sitting third on the depth chart after Sean Mannion outperformed him in the preseason. Goff went on to start seven games that season for Jeff Fisher. He completed just over 50% of his passes, threw five touchdown passes and had seven interceptions. Before the 2016 NFL Draft, some labeled Goff as the least pro-ready quarterback in the entire class and it showed during his rookie season.
In the head coach’s first season, the Rams won the NFC West title with an 11-5 record and Goff had a very good season, earning a Pro Bowl nod. The following season, the Rams again won the division and Goff again played exceptionally well. He was among the passing leaders in the NFL and was in the conversation for MVP, particularly during the first 11 weeks of the season. Goff led the Rams all the way to the Super Bowl, earning yet another Pro Bowl nod.
The Rams seemed to be a long way from everyone calling Goff a bust, and the quarterback signed a big contract that offseason. Everyone touted McVay as a quarterback guru and offensive mastermind. The McVay train collected so much stream, there were head coaches and coordinators who were hired around the league simply because owners were searching for the “next Sean McVay.” It is indeed a copycat league!
However, in 2019, the Rams and Goff regressed badly. They finished the year 9-7 and missed the playoffs entirely. What happened?
There were several factors, all happening simultaneously. The Rams allowed starting guard Rodger Saffold to leave via free agency. They also declined the option on starting center John Sullivan’s contract. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth’s play started to reflect his age. The offensive line played poorly, to say the least, and Goff was hit often. This also coincided with the regression of running back Todd Gurley and his degenerative knee. Ultimately, all of these things collectively contributed to the regression of Goff and the Rams’ offense overall.
Could Goff have been pressing after signing the new contract while trying to carry the team on his own? Possibly, because while he still passed for more than 4,600 yards, he also turned the ball over 16 times. What concerns me is that the Rams haven’t done enough to upgrade their offensive line. They added a guard in the seventh round of 2020 NFL Draft and they also drafted a running back, Cam Akers. But will that be enough?
Simply put, if the Rams don’t get better offensive line play in 2020, you can expect a similar outcome to what happened in 2019. Another playoff-less season will raise a lot of questions for everyone in the organization.