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Column: Having lost confidence in Jared Goff, Rams need to move on

Rams quarterback Jared Goff reacts on the sideline late in the second half.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff reacts on the sideline late in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle.
(Scott Eklund / Associated Press)

Now starting at quarterback for your 2021 Los Angeles Rams

Aaron Rodgers? Deshaun Watson? John Wolford?

Anybody, it seems, but Jared Goff.

His potential departure turned probable Tuesday when general manager Les Snead echoed the earlier vote of uncertainty from coach Sean McVay.

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A couple of weeks ago McVay tepidly said, “He’s the quarterback right now.”

On Tuesday, Snead quietly said, “What I can say is Jared Goff’s a Ram in this moment. It’s way too early to speculate the future.”

Sounds like a consensus. Sounds like, if they can figure out a way to move him out, he’s gone.

“Aaron Rodgers probably said it best,” Snead said. “The future’s a beautiful mystery.”

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Wait, he’s recruiting Rodgers already? Now that would be cool.

What is not a mystery is that the Rams no longer trust the future of their franchise in the hands of their franchise quarterback, and it’s time to start pondering what’s next.

Rams general manager Les Snead said it’s ‘way too early to speculate’ whether quarterback Jared Goff would be on the roster next season.

You think the idea of bringing Green Bay’s unsettled Rodgers back to California is crazy? Yeah, so was the notion of Tom Brady playing for Tampa Bay. Can you imagine Rodgers leading an offense on a team with the league’s best defense? Think Super Bowl.

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When asked to decipher his comments about Goff, Snead said, “I think the inference would be, we want to get better.”

Rodgers would be better. So, too, would Watson, and you think there’s no way the Rams could pull off a blockbuster deal for the unhappy star? Yeah, well, the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis. Can you visualize Watson’s mobile skill set combining with McVay’s brains? Again, think Super Bowl.

“We’re in the business of … what can we apply to make the model better?” said Snead.

Several potentially available quarterbacks would better fit that model, including Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott and maybe even McVay-favorite Wolford. The guy won a playoff-clinching game against Arizona in his NFL debut. If the Rams can’t find a suitable veteran, Wolford could work.

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Rams quarterback John Wolford is escorted off the field after an injury.
Rams quarterback John Wolford is escorted off the field after an injury during the first quarter of a playoff game in Seattle.
(Abbie Parr / Getty Images)

Of course, pulling off a trade involving Goff would not be easy, and simply cutting him seems unimaginable. Just two seasons ago, Goff signed a $134-million extension that included $110 million guaranteed. Moving that money and working around the salary-cap hit would be an onerous task. But Snead emphasized it would not be impossible.

“Moving on from Jared Goff, the money we’ve got invested in him, that’s not easy to overcome,” Snead said, but later added, “Anything can be done in a cap-based system … anything can be done … I think you’ve seen that occur in the NFL.”

Heck, we’ve already seen it occur repeatedly with Snead and the Rams. More than any franchise in town, when the situation called for a bold move, the Rams have made one with utter fearlessness.

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When they wanted to rid themselves of cornerstone running back Todd Gurley last spring even though they were paying him $45 million in guaranteed money, they shrugged and cut him.

When they wanted to become the first team to trade up from the 15th draft spot to No. 1 to pick Goff five years ago, they shrugged and handed the Tennessee Titans a boatload of selections.

And when they wanted to build a new stadium despite being in a city where the NFL was not a proven commodity, they shuddered, then shrugged and spent $5 billion to do it.

When it comes to improving their lot, the Rams don’t mess around, and they’re not messing around here.

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Goff is a good guy, but in his five seasons he hasn’t grown into being the right guy. He doesn’t fit McVay’s versatile vision. He doesn’t possess McVay’s fiery edge. He’s wasting the team’s top-ranked defense. McVay and Goff failed each other in the Super Bowl loss to New England two seasons ago and their connection has seemingly been frayed ever since.

“Sean definitely … wants to make sure we get back to maybe being more explosive scoring, more points, not turning the ball over as much,” said Snead.

The Rams think Goff is regressing, and he is. This season he passed for a career-low 20 touchdowns with a 23rd-ranked passer rating of 90. In the last two seasons he committed a league-high 39 turnovers.

The Rams also think he can’t get it consistently done in the red zone, and he can’t. One of the league’s smartest offenses scored red-zone touchdowns just 58% of the time this season, ranking 19th in the league and down 6% from last season.

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The Rams signed quarterback Devlin Hodges to a reserve/future contract, the team announced Monday.

“This year [Goff] started off probably hot, got a little bit of the case of the turnovers … that’s the thing we’ve got to improve on, and we started going south a little bit over the last couple of years,” said Snead. “Then being tighter in the red zone, in terms of getting more touchdown than field goals.”

Snead praised Goff’s toughness in playing through the thumb injury. Several times Snead noted the great success — one Super Bowl, three playoff appearances — in the four years of the McVay-Goff duo.

But not once did Snead say Goff was going to be his 2021 starting quarterback. And seriously, even if they had a change of heart and endorsed his return, how difficult would it be for him to continue buying into a system whose leaders aren’t fully backing him?

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“The goal is to look at the model, see if there’s some tweaks to be made to make sure we can get back to who we want to be,” said Snead.

Tweak, thy name is Jared Goff.


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