In the aftermath of a playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Greg Olson stopped by Jared Goff’s Coliseum locker, shook hands and shared a laugh with the Rams’ second-year quarterback.
Olson, the Rams’ quarterbacks coach, was in the process of saying goodbye.
On Tuesday, new Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden officially announced that Olson would join his staff as offensive coordinator, a move that was brewing since Gruden’s name first surfaced in connection with his return to the Raiders.
A few hours later, Rams coach Sean McVay appointed Zac Taylor as Olson’s replacement, promoting the assistant receivers coach who worked as the Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach and who was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Cincinnati.
“Zac's promotion is a testament to him and the coaches that we have in place as well as our desire as an organization to build and grow from within," McVay said in a statement. "He has a clear understanding of our offense and we're confident in his ability to coach this group at a high level and that his transition into the role will be seamless.”
Goff and McVay addressed Olson’s possible departure Sunday, the day after the Rams’ season-ending defeat.
“If that were to happen, we’re very happy for him and everything he’s done for us,” Goff said. “We can’t thank him enough….
“Everything he’s done has been awesome. It far exceeded my expectations, as far as what he’s done for myself and our whole quarterback room. And we’re very thankful for him.”
Olson’s exit means that Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, will have a different position coach for the third time in three pro seasons.
Chris Weinke, who had no NFL coaching experience when Jeff Fisher hired him in 2015, was the quarterbacks coach for Goff’s rookie season, which included seven winless starts.
Olson, a colleague of McVay’s on Gruden’s 2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff, joined the Rams with a long history as an NFL quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. With McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur — the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach the previous two seasons — he helped Goff become a top-10 passer and the leader of the NFL’s highest-scoring offense.
Taylor, 34, played quarterback at Nebraska and was the Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach from 2013 to 2015. He also served as the Dolphins’ interim offensive coordinator for part of the 2015 season before spending a year at the University of Cincinnati.
Goff indicated Sunday that there would be no problem transitioning to a new position coach.
“It’ll be fine,” he said.
Goff’s development this season was perhaps the most important on-field factor in the Rams’ run to their first winning season since 2003 and their first playoff appearance since 2004.
Goff passed for 28 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. He struggled at times during the Rams’ 26-13 loss to the Falcons but characterized the season as a success.
“The regular season was good for us — we were successful there,” he said. “But when it really matters, we didn’t get it done. And, ultimately, that’s all that matters.”
As for his performance?
“I feel like I made some good steps,” he said, “but a lot of work to do.”
McVay praised Goff throughout the season for his poise and even-keeled demeanor. He said the 23-year-old quarterback’s ability to recognize defenses and read coverages would improve because of his experience this season.
“One of the things that we talk about all the time is that experience, and that really goes for anybody but I think especially the quarterback position,” McVay said, adding, ““He’ll be able to look at himself critically, learn from some of the mistakes.
“He did a lot of really good things too. … In terms of leading, just playing the position, the command overall, very pleased with Jared and I thought he had a good year.”
So did teammates.
Receiver Robert Woods cited Goff’s mental toughness and pocket presence.
“He just has to keep studying and keep it going,” Woods said. “But it’s only going to get better.
“For it to start off like that, with McVay and this new offense, and deliver as he did I think it’s a great start for his future.”
Said linebacker Alec Ogletree: “He's a tremendous competitor, and you grow each year. … There's room for everybody on this team to grow, and he's doing his part being a great quarterback for us.”
Goff, a Northern California native, said he planned to remain in Southern California to prepare for offseason workouts and the start of organized team activities.
He intends to return as an improved quarterback in all areas.
“Become a better leader, a better teammate, a better player, and everything in between,” he said.
The Rams have some decisions to make about players such as cornerback Trumaine Johnson and receivers Sammy Watkins, who could become free agents, and Tavon Austin.
But Goff sounded optimistic about the 2018 season and beyond.
“It’s just the beginning for this group,” he said, “and having the coaches we have, and having everyone in the front office, we expect it to only go up from here.