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Rams’ Jared Goff says of criticism: ‘I can handle it’

Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass as he is pressured by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass as he is pressured by Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Lavonte David and defensive end William Gholston during the Rams’ win last month.
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

With high winds forecast in Thousand Oaks on Thursday, Rams coach Sean McVay will have his team practice at SoFi Stadium so that quarterback Jared Goff and the offense can work without distraction.

Whether practicing in calmer air changes the recent trajectory of Goff’s performance won’t be known until Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Goff committed three turnovers in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. After the game, McVay uncharacteristically called out the fifth-year pro, saying that he needed to take better care of the ball. McVay reiterated the point Monday, saying he would not do so if Goff didn’t have the maturity to shoulder the criticism.

“I’m a big boy, I can handle it,” Goff said Wednesday during a videoconference after practice. “We have a great relationship and I’m accountable for myself. And I need to be better than that.”

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The Rams are 7-4 and in second place in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks (8-3). The Cardinals are 6-5, the 49ers are 5-6.

The Rams announced that players had contributed $750,000 to 25 Southern California nonprofits focused on social justice.

Goff has passed for 16 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions and four lost fumbles.

Against the 49ers, Goff lost a fumble and had two passes intercepted, one that was returned for a touchdown.

“For the 24 hours after it, I was not in happy place, for sure, really disappointed in myself,” he said. “But you move on.”

Goff, the recipient of a $134-million extension before the 2019 season, said he would remain aggressive.

“I’ve always been confident and been able to overcome mistakes,” he said, “But at the same time, I don’t want to keep sitting here and saying that I need to take care of the ball better. I’ll just be smarter with it and make better decisions.”

The Cardinals have been a tonic for Goff.

Under McVay, the Rams are 6-0 against the Cardinals, and the Rams have not scored fewer than 31 points. Goff has passed for 10 touchdowns, with three interceptions.

In two victories last season, Goff passed for a combined 743 yards and five touchdowns, without an interception.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is aware of Goff’s recent struggles.

“You hope that it stays that way, but a player like Goff, when you see him have a tough day, you usually think he’s going to come back and play really well because that’s the type of competitor he is, and that’s kind of his track record as I’ve followed him,” Kingsbury said during a conference call, adding, “We know the level he can play at, and that’s the level we’re expecting to get.”

McVay said he was pleased with the way Goff practiced Wednesday.

“He’s steady, he’s neutral,” McVay said. “He’s coming back ready to go and that’s what you want. You don’t want somebody that’s going to ride the emotional roller coaster.”

Now, McVay said, the Rams need Goff to make good decisions, take care of the ball and distribute it on time to running backs, receivers and tight ends.

“He’s done that in spurts this year,” McVay said. “It’s not a matter of is he capable of it. It’s just a matter of, ‘Let’s be more consistent.’”

To perhaps help facilitate that, McVay moved Thursday’s practice. The fourth-year coach lamented that windy conditions late in the season have annually plagued the Rams.

Last week, after a Rams player and another member of the organization initially tested positive for COVID-19, McVay canceled a Friday practice, also citing windy conditions.

Coach Sean McVay doesn’t back off proclamation that Jared Goff needs to take better care of the football in order for the Rams to succeed.

McVay said Wednesday that, in retrospect, he erred making that decision in what was already an abbreviated week of preparation after a Monday night game in Tampa, Fla.

“I probably did our guys a disservice not giving us an opportunity to practice,” he said.

Since returning from St. Louis in 2016, the Rams have worked out of a temporary facility at Cal Lutheran University. The team has not yet announced where a permanent facility might be built.

“That’s probably about 15 years away right now,” McVay joked, adding, “You want to talk about a new facility? I’ll be aged about 50 years by then.”

Etc…

McVay said he expected linebacker Obo Okoronkwo (elbow) would return to the roster this week…. Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day (hip) was limited during practice, according to the Rams’ injury report.


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