Posted on August 22, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Losing sucks, but in the NFL it means you get a chance to pick a guy in the next draft that could make an immediate impact on the team—if you pick the right guy. When the Los Angeles Rams moved up so they could have the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft the assumption was they would take a quarterback, Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. Wentz had a fantastic career and led his team to two FCS Championships, but the Rams decided they liked the skill set that California quarterback Jared Goff had better.
However, the problem with having the first pick in the draft is that everyone heaps unrealistic expectations on him that are nearly impossible to live up to. That was the case with Jared Goff, and sure enough–he is not coming close to living up to them so far.
To be fair, it shouldn’t be surprising. Even though he has yet to lead his team to even a winning season let alone a title of any kind, Goff was picked by many analysts prior to the 2015 season to be the first quarterback taken in the next draft. His physical tools were commendable, but not overly. It was his mental game that many found impressive. One draft analyst described his skill set as “he’s off-the-charts above the neck.” So when the Rams chose him, no one was surprised.
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After a year of hype and Goff resetting the passing records he already owned at Cal, it was not surprising when the Rams chose him. What as a little surprising was his answer on Hard Knocks when talking with fellow rookie Pharaoh Cooper about where the sun rises on:
“East,” Goff informed Cooper. “Apparently, it’s well known.”
This coming from a guy who attended one of the best academic universities in the nation and is “off-the-charts above the neck.” Of course, football knowledge is what matters, not something as elementary as where the sun rises.
At least we know his mind hasn’t been stuck in textbooks for the last 15 years like some silly Rhodes Scholar–because who would want one of those on the roster?
But so far, with the exception of what has been reported about him from practice, Goff hasn’t displayed a lot of knowledge about football either. His debut against the Dallas Cowboys was short due to an injury concern and unimpressive. Against the Kansas City Chiefs he looked overwhelmed from the moment he entered the game. On his second play, he stepped up into the pocket, tripped over an offensive lineman’s leg, fell and fumbled the ball. He fumbled again on a third and four play in his second drive (but the ball went out of bounds), but he should never have been hit (he should have thrown the ball away) (NFL).
He didn’t look like a No. 1 pick that was going to take the NFL by storm, but more like a project player that the team should stash on the practice squad so they have time to groom him.
To be fair, he did start looking good late in the game and afterward said he began to feel like he did back in college. If you never watched him play while at Cal, he was capable of doing some great things with a football. While the confidence is a plus, it is important to note that it was late in the game—when most of the guys playing are not going to be on the roster come Week One.
For a guy who was supposed to have the mental aspect of the game down, he has clearly struggled quite a bit with making the mental jump from college to the NFL. While he is talented, his struggles should come as no surprise—at least to fans of the Pac-12.
Goff rewrote the record books at Cal, but the team was terrible in two of the three seasons he was the starter. Like most statistics generated by college players these days, his have to be taken with a grain of salt. Many of his big games came against lesser opponents like Grambling, Sacramento State, and Portland State. As the starter for three years, he failed to lead his team to a single win over USC, UCLA, Stanford, or Oregon. His marquee win during his final college season was a 542-yard, five-touchdown effort in a come from behind win over Arizona State–a 6-6 team (Wiki).
It takes more than just a talented quarterback to win games of course, but a quarterback of his caliber should be able to make the guys around him better. Even though he was being called the next best NFL quarterback—the best he was able to do at Cal was a 7-5 record in 2015 (he was 13-23 in three years as Cal’s starter). Goff may have all the physical tools that teams want in an NFL quarterback and may be football smart, but he has not shown that he can get the job done against quality competition.
He may throw a real pretty ball, but so did Jeff George.
Since the Rams drafted him, head coach Jeff Fisher has preached patience with Goff, but patience is not something people tend to have with No. 1 picks. If he can’t beat out Case Keenum (and it doesn’t appear like he will), Fisher may want to find a way to stick him on the IR for the season.
Call it a case of premature college departure coupled with over-hyped expectations.