Maybe the suspicions are true, maybe the criticisms are accurate and maybe the Rams just guaranteed $110 million to a system quarterback.
So what’s the problem?
Jared Goff will remain with the Rams for the foreseeable future, but so will the system under which he became a Pro Bowl player. Before they extended Goff’s deal, they lengthened coach Sean McVay’s.
When his record contract is finalized, Goff, 24, will be signed through the 2024 season. McVay’s agreement expires only a year earlier.
At this point, what matters isn’t what or who is responsible for Goff’s ascent. What counts are the results. The McVay-Goff partnership has produced them.
No quarterback selected No. 1 overall has required less time to become a Super Bowl starter than Goff, who earned the distinction as a third-year player.
John Elway, Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe and Eli Manning did it in their fourth seasons.
Consider how Goff’s NFL career began, with an 0-7 starting record under then-coach Jeff Fisher.
When speaking to reporters Wednesday at the Rams’ practice facility, Goff opened his remarks by thanking owner Stan Kroenke, members of the front office and his agents.
“Then,” Goff continued, “I’d like to thank Sean. I think I can’t overstate what he’s meant to me and my career. You guys obviously know how it went the first year and then how it’s gone since he got here.”
Under McVay, Goff is 24-7. He has completed 64% of his passes over the last two seasons, 65 for touchdowns. He has reached the postseason twice and was twice selected for the Pro Bowl.
Goff should have five more seasons with McVay, if not more.
“He joked that I’m stuck with him,” Goff said.
This was always McVay’s publicly stated plan, for them to remain linked indefinitely. McVay recalled how Goff made an impression on him when he interviewed with the Rams.
“When you talk to him, what I loved more than anything is even though the season didn’t go the way they wanted it to as a team, all he did was look inward and take accountability for what he can do to be better,” McVay said. “When you’re mentally tough like that, when you have the natural inclination to look inward before you look to blame someone else, I think that sets you up for success.”
Goff credited McVay for helping him further develop that trait, as the coach has set an example by publicly acknowledging his mistakes.
“It makes it a lot easier for me to do it,” Goff said. “I think we both have that personality trait, but he makes it a lot easier.”
An example: Immediately after the Rams’ Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, McVay acknowledged he was “outcoached” by Bill Belichick.
Goff looked his age in that game, missing open receivers and failing to convert third down after third down.
Asked what he gained from the experience, Goff replied, “Just understanding that there are going to be times in games where you need to do different things that you weren’t expecting to do.”
And how far is Goff from becoming the kind of quarterback who can win a game like that?
“Hopefully, not very far,” he said.
McVay has defended Goff against criticism that he is a system quarterback, and he defended him Wednesday against the notion that he couldn’t win a big game, citing the NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints.
“The Super Bowl is obviously a big game,” McVay said. “It’s the only game and it’s the last game of the season, so it tends to be talked about. Rightfully so.
“But I think for him, when you talk about is he ready for big-time moments, being able to carry his team, being able to make things right if they’re not always in alignment with what we want, I thought last year he demonstrated that.
“Now, the challenge is, can we consistently do it?”
With Goff tying himself to McVay and McVay to Goff, the quarterback and coach should have plenty of opportunities.
McVay will remain to Goff what Belichick is to Tom Brady, what Saints coach Sean Payton is to Drew Brees.
As for the long-standing debate of what Goff would be without McVay, the mystery might never be revealed. The only question of importance now is whether they can win a Super Bowl together.