Jared Goff has a fan in new Rams quarterback coach Greg Olson
He has been entrusted with developing the cornerstone of the franchise, a player the Rams mortgaged their future to acquire.
New quarterbacks coach Greg Olson said Friday that he was looking forward to working with second-year pro Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.
“I’m really excited about the challenge with that,” Olson said during an introductory event for Coach Sean McVay’s new staff at the Rams’ training facility at Cal Lutheran, “but it certainly is a much easier challenge when you have talented player.”
Olson — along with McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur — is part of a triumvirate charged with turning Goff into a productive player, if not a star.
After trading six draft picks last April to select Goff first overall, the Rams finished 4-12 last season. They featured the NFL’s worst offense for the second season in a row under former coach Jeff Fisher and his staff.
Goff was inactive for the opener and sat the bench for eight games behind journeyman Case Keenum. He started the final seven games but struggled mightily at times, passing for five touchdowns, with seven interceptions, and finishing without a victory.
Now Goff will transition from a coaching staff that featured a quarterbacks coach with one year of NFL experience to a staff full of coaches with pedigrees developing NFL passers.
Olson, 53, worked with Drew Brees at Purdue and in the NFL with Derek Carr of the Raiders and Blake Bortles of the Jaguars among others.
LaFleur, 37, spent the last two seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons, where he worked with NFL most valuable player Matt Ryan in the league’s highest-scoring offense.
And McVay, 31, tutored Kirk Cousins as offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins.
“It’s very important for all of us to be on the same page,” McVay said when asked how the three will handle Goff, adding. “We’ll all be on the same rhythm as far as what we’re communicating to Jared, what the expectations are.”
Olson will work directly with Goff.
Olson, who has coached in the NFL for 15 seasons, said Goff has “unbelievable arm talent; he’s had that since high school — a very talented player with a ton of potential.” - Olson evaluated Goff when he played at California, and has spent the last few weeks watching his Goff’s performances last season.
“Nothing that I have watched so far has deterred me from that evaluation,” Olson said.
Goff took first-team snaps in rookie camp last spring but was otherwise relegated to back-up status throughout organized-team activities and training camp. He took first-team reps one day during the bye week but did not do so again until he was named the starter in Week 11.
“It wasn’t a great situation,” Olson said, adding that Goff will go into his second season with a year of experience and a full complement of starter’s reps during the spring and summer.
“There should be a huge jump from Year 1 to Year 2,” he said of Goff’s anticipated performance.
Much of the progress, he said, would come from Goff’s ability to process and communicate play-calls in the huddle, something he — and many other college quarterbacks — are not required to do in spread systems in college.
“A lot of things he was doing at Cal, he did it at the line of scrimmage with one-word codes,” Olson said. “There’s a little bit more to that in the NFL.”
McVay met with Goff last month during the interview process before he was hired. Olson has spoken by phone with Goff. LaFleur, who was hired this week, is due to arrive in Southern California next week.
Coaches cannot meet with players until off-season workouts officially begin in April.
The Rams’ offense is expected to include “West Coast” concepts and elements that were featured in attacks used by McVay with the Washington Redskins and by Kyle Shanahan with the Falcons.
This will be the third offensive system in three years for Goff.
“It’s going to be real critical that he has a chance to learn the system and get comfortable within that system,” Olson said. “And the more comfortable he gets with it, then certainly the more confidence he’ll be able to play with.
“And then you’ll be able to reach that potential.”
The offensive line also must improve for Goff to progress.
Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said he was evaluating tape of players and was encouraged by their youth and individual skills. He said he would not be able to form opinions about left tackle Greg Robinson and others until he has the opportunity to work with them on the field.
“We’re looking for football intelligence, we’re looking for guys that want to compete and guys that communicate,” he said. “We want someone we can sit down with and have a football conversation with, so we can interact and help each other become better.
“And if we can get that, then you have a good offensive line.”
The Rams ranked ninth in the NFL in defense last season. Now the unit is under the direction of 40-year NFL veteran Wade Phillips, most recently the architect of the Denver Broncos’ powerful defenses.
Phillips said he favored a 3-4 scheme because “you have three linemen and somebody else is coming from somewhere” in what is most of the time a four-man rush.
“It gives an advantage of not knowing, protection-wise,” Phillips said of the opposition.
Defensive line coach Bill Johnson takes over a unit that includes three-time Pro Bowl tackle Aaron Donald and two-time Pro Bowl end Robert Quinn among others.
“You can tell they’re the nucleus of this football team right now,” Johnson said of the line. “They’re very productive.
“The one thing I’ve really been encouraged about and excited about is they’re such a fine mesh unit. They get along with each other. They’re friends, they’re buddies. They’re more than just teammates. It’s a great situation.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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