Column: Rams’ Jared Goff plans to keep things the same in a world of change
Jared Goff appeared on a video conference Wednesday with a smile and a Ron Burgundy mustache.
The facial hair was striking. The story behind it wasn’t, as the Rams quarterback revealed the furry strip was a remnant of recent beard-growing experiments conducted by him and his roommates.
“I’ve been super bored like everyone else,” Goff said.
So much for that.
With or without the country in a state of emergency, this was already shaping into an offseason of uncertainty for the Rams, who made major changes in the wake of a 9-7 campaign in which they missed the playoffs. Running back Todd Gurley was released, receiver Brandin Cooks was traded and kicker Greg Zuerlein was lost in free agency.
Overarching question for Rams’ offensive line entering NFL draft is who eventually will succeed Andrew Whitworth.
Goff has acted as if nothing has changed. He said he was preparing as if the season will start on time. As for the perception that he bears more responsibility now that former offensive cornerstone Gurley plays for the Atlanta Falcons, he claimed that was nothing new.
“I think there’s no label to put on anything, whose team it is or who’s it on more or not more,” Goff said. “It’s always been on me. It’s always been on the quarterback. That’s never changed since I’ve come in the league and it’s always been up to me to make things happen.”
The 17-minute video conference offered a view of how the fifth-year quarterback intends to lead the Rams, how he plans to be a calming presence on a team that could be dealing with transitions on multiple fronts, from a modified season to an overhauled roster to a new stadium.
The level-headed demeanor helped him transform from an overwhelmed rookie to a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He is now counting on the same mind-set to orchestrate the rebuilding of a once high-powered offense that declined in production last year.
When addressing the losses of Gurley and Cooks, Goff spoke of them as friends he won’t see as often more than he did as weapons he wouldn’t have at his disposal.
Goff went out of his way to point out how outside of Gurley and Cooks, the offense remains intact under coach Sean McVay.
On how the Rams could be affected by changes in how they prepare in the offseason, Goff said, “I could imagine it’s harder for teams that are installing new offenses, whereas for us going into this Year 4 with Sean and really everyone knows where we are at this point.”
In reality, the team’s transition started last year. McVay was more selective in how he deployed former workhorse Gurley, who was playing on a surgically repaired left knee with plenty of miles on it.
The shift had a profound effect, not only on the Rams’ offense as a whole, but for Goff as well. His statistics were down across the board, except in passes intercepted.
But Goff was encouraged by how he played over the last five games, when he passed for 11 touchdowns with four interceptions. Tight end Tyler Higbee eclipsed 100 yards receiving four times.
“I think just creatively on offense, we found different avenues to move the ball down the field, whether it was Higbee in the screen game, whether it was Higbee in the play-action game, whether it was different types of runs, different types of passes,” Goff said.
In other words, the Rams adjusted. And Goff envisions them adjusting with Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown at running back instead of Gurley, and with Josh Reynolds as a deep threat instead of Cooks.
Goff is willing to put his money where his mouth is. He said he was restructuring his contract to provide the Rams with more financial flexibility. Goff signed a four-year, $134-million extension last year.
The team already discarded Gurley and Cooks for salary-cap reasons.
Asked what he would say to fans who were concerned about the state of the team, Goff replied, “We’ll be just fine. Nothing to worry about. Teams make changes all the time and we’re going to find other contributors.
Is he overly optimistic, delusional even? Maybe, but his words of reassurance could be an important touchstone for a team that doesn’t know what’s ahead, both on the field and off.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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