Column: Rams’ most troubling trend: Jared Goff has been off the mark
Rams receiver Josh Reynolds can’t make the catch on the game’s final play.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff has the ball dislodged by Eagle linebacker Kamy Grugier-Hill, who got past running back Todd Gurley.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams safety John Johnson knocks the ball away from Eagles tight end Zach Ertz on a pass to the end zone.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams returner JoJo Natson (19) is consoled by teamates after fumbling the ball to the Eagles on a punt during the fourth quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver KhaDarel Hodge can’t make the catch on a fake punt against the Eagles during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox intercepts a pass intended for Rams receiver Josh Reynolds during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff tries to recover a fumble during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley can’t make the catch as Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill makes the hit during the first quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley hurdles Eagles safety Corey Graham to pick up big yards during the second quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery makes a catch in front of teammate Nelson Agholor (13) and Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley scores a touchdown against the Eagles defense during the first quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver Josh Reynolds is tackled short of the goal line by Eagles defensive back Rasul Douglas during the fourth quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Quarterback Jared Goff watches as the Rams fail to convert on a fake punt against the Eagles.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams returner JoJo Natson fumbles a punt and the Eagles’ D.J. Alexander jumps on the ball late in the fourth quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks tackles Eagles running back Josh Adams during the first quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
He lost his footing, then he lost his mind, and now it’s official.
Somewhere, somehow, Jared Goff has lost his magic.
The coolest guy in the room sometimes looks like the awkward kid in the corner. The confident leader is increasingly becoming cautious and jittery.
The glorious arm has been mostly quiet. The pinpoint accuracy has been mostly absent.
For a third consecutive game Sunday night, the Rams quarterback wasn’t at his best. For a second consecutive game, the Rams weren’t winners. It is not a coincidence.
This time it was an embarrassing 30-23 loss to the injury ravaged Philadelphia Eagles, a game highlighted by Goff’s involvement in the Rams’ most embarrassing play of the season.
This time, there were boos from the Coliseum crowd as he struggled to make the big throw, failed to find the end zone, and threw two interceptions despite completing 35 of 54 passes for 339 yards.
This time, with a compelling comeback victory in sight, he overthrew a leaping Josh Reynolds in the corner of the end zone on the final play of the game. This time, when added to the previous two times, Goff has a three-game total of one touchdown pass and seven interceptions.
The problem is real. The worry is palpable. On a night when the Rams likely lost all chance at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, folks were searching for something even larger.
Where are on earth is their great young quarterback?
“There’s concern about just our overall operation, with regard to just the way we played specific to the offense the last couple of weeks,’’ coach Sean McVay said afterward. “It starts with me — got to do a better job. We’ve all got to do better.’’
With every loss of the McVay era — and this is the first time he’s lost consecutive games — the coach has admirably publicly shouldered the responsibility.
But let’s be honest here. The blame may indeed start with McVay, but it’s a very short leap to Goff, and if the Rams can’t fix him, their season is broken.
Witness Sunday night when, for a second consecutive year here, Goff was outplayed by that Super Bowl MVP backup Nick Foles and the Coliseum concourses were again filled with fans singing that maddening Eagles song.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,’’ said McVay.
After killing one first-half drive with an interception, and then failing on three consecutive end-zone passes from the 18-yard line in the final seconds of the first half, Goff made his biggest mistake late in the third quarter.
You’ve probably already seen it on video. If not, you will, again and again. It wasn’t just a blunder, it was a viral one.
The play happened with the Rams trailing 23-13 but suddenly energized with Todd Gurley back in the game after a brief break to rest an apparent knee injury.
And then Goff was tripping, falling behind center John Sullivan after taking the snap. He fumbled, quickly recovered the fumble, took a loss and ... wait, he didn’t stay down!
With the ball back in his arms, Goff jumped back up to salvage the play, and found himself in the thick grasp of the Eagles’ Kamu Grugier-Hill, leading to a sack … wait, he tried to throw it!
With no way to see and nowhere to pass it, Goff unwisely chucked it anyway. In an attempt to whip the ball around the body of Grugier-Hill, Goff essentially pushed the ball to the Eagles’ Corey Graham, who gleefully made the interception and carried it deep into Rams’ territory.
One play later, Wendell Smallwood ran four yards up the middle and into the end zone against the apparently still stunned members of the Rams defense, and the 13-point underdog Eagles had a shocking 30-13 lead they never lost.
Afterward, as Goff stood in front of the media and professionally faced like questions like always, I asked him what happened on the play. His answer was understandably short.
“I had my foot stepped on, tried to make a play afterward, unfortunately wasn’t able to,’’ he said. “It was a third down, down in the game, and tried to make a play.’’
McVay didn’t need to be asked about the play. He offered an unsolicited description. It was a big longer.
McVay added, “There’s certainly some things that we can look at and we’ve got to be better — everybody.’’
While McVay sounded urgent afterward, Goff continues to sound so, well, Goff. From the tone of his voice to the calm of expression, he remains the portrait of unruffled.
“What do we need to figure out? I don’t think it’s much,’’ he said. “I think it’s little things here and there. I need to do a better job. We need to do a better job all across the board. It’s nothing that we haven’t done…and it’s stuff that’s so fixable.’’
After Goff threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Kansas City Chiefs about a month ago, his serenity was celebrated as a cool trait.
Now? It’s a bit unsettling. The Rams have two regular season games remaining to get their offense fixed. If they don’t, their January will be a short one.
They don’t have much time here. The urgency in McVay seems warranted. The coolness of Goff is, well, I guess we’ll find out how that works out.
Goff did acknowledge that teams are playing the Rams different now after their hot start, and that the Rams need to adjust, which makes sense.
“Teams are mixing it up; teams watch our tape just like we watch theirs and are doing a good job,’’ he said. “At the same time, we’re beating ourselves.’’
But, he added, “It should be very fixable.’’
Maybe, soon? Like, now?
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