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Column: Jared Goff and Sean McVay can’t explain away the Rams’ issues on offense

Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams knocks the ball out of Rams quarterback Jared Goff's hand.
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams knocks the ball out of Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s hand during the second quarter of the Rams’ 23-16 win Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

An underthrown play-action pass during the opening drive Sunday served as an appropriate metaphor for how this season has unfolded for Jared Goff and the Rams offense.

The 31-yard completion to Cooper Kupp moved the Rams into the red zone and set up a field goal. They went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks, 23-16.

Except …

“Put that ball in front of him, that’s probably a touchdown,” Goff conceded.

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Something about the offense doesn’t look right.

The Rams are 6-3 because of their defense. They are tied with the Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks for first place in the NFC West because of Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Floyd.

Their offense hasn’t hurt them, but isn’t striking fear into opponents as it once did.

Who would have imagined Sean McVay’s Rams would turn into Ben Howland’s UCLA basketball team?

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Listen to McVay and Goff and they will make the argument they are on the verge of becoming the kind of offense that could have scored 35 to 40 points Sunday.

Holding his thumb and index finger about an inch apart, Goff said, “We’re just that close on a handful of those plays that would have really opened it up.”

The reality is the attack was never really the same after the since-departed Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee started to be a problem a couple of years ago.

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With the defense as dominant as it is now, the Rams don’t have to score as much as they did when Gurley was the league’s best offensive player, but they have to do more than they did against the Seahawks. Goff has to be better than the league’s 20th rated-passer, which is what he was entering the weekend.

The Rams are in a critical stretch of their season, with upcoming games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Cardinals.

Rams coach Sean McVay speaks with quarterback Jared Goff on the sideline.
Rams coach Sean McVay speaks with quarterback Jared Goff on the sideline during Sunday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks.
(Joe Scarnici / Getty Images)

With Goff completing passes to seven receivers, the Rams scored 17 points in the first half. They added a touchdown in their opening drive of the second.

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“Offensively, I like the way that we started out the game,” McVay said.

Then, nothing.

No touchdowns, no field goals, no points.

“I think for the most part of the game, we were able to move the ball pretty well,” Goff said. “In the fourth quarter, if we were able to finish those drives with a touchdown, it would be a much different outcome and we’d be really, really happy about it. We are happy about the win, but being able to score 35 there instead of 23 would have been tremendous.”

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But this was against a Seahawks team that went into the game giving up a league-worst 362.1 yards passing per game.

Here, in the entertainment capital of the world, enthusiasm for the Rams remains at modest levels. The nothingness that defined the second half couldn’t have made them any new fans.

The more optimistic view was that Goff avoided a repeat of his season-worst performance in the Rams’ 28-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

He had a week off to recover from the mauling on the road, in which he had two passes intercepted and fumbled twice.

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Goff didn’t pass for a touchdown against the Seahawks, but none of his throws were intercepted, either. His lone turnover was a fumble in the second quarter when safety Jamal Adams swatted the ball out of his hand as he reached back to throw.

Darious Williams got plenty of air time and out-shined Jalen Ramsey with his two interceptions in the Rams’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks threatened to erase the Rams’ 17-10 lead on the ensuing drive, but Goff was once again saved by his defense: Cornerback Darious Williams intercepted a pass by Russell Wilson that was intended for tight end Will Dissly in the end zone.

Williams intercepted another pass in the fourth quarter.

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Goff finished with 302 yards passing.

He said of his team’s defense: “You can’t understate everything they’ve done and it’s exciting to see. It’s exciting as a quarterback to be able to be so reliant on them. You don’t want to be. You want to win that game by four touchdowns.”

McVay also called for the offense to improve.

“I want to see us be able to make those plays at the end to really close out games,” McVay said. “That’s going to be a big point of focus for us. It really was already, but we’ve got the right guys.”

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Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Rams’ 23-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

McVay has to say that, of course.

Without a feature back of Gurley’s quality, the Rams are counting on variety to make their ground game effective. They rushed for 106 yards against Seahawks, with Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson sharing responsibilities.

Akers was the leading rusher with 38 yards in 10 carries. Brown scored two touchdowns. Henderson scored the other.

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But the responsibility is ultimately the quarterback’s. As the player who signed a record extension, he has to do more than hold himself accountable for not hitting Kupp in stride or missing tight end Tyler Higbee when he was open.

He has to make those plays.


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