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Rams coach Sean McVay admits he made mistakes with Jared Goff

Rams head coach Sean McVay  congratulates quarterback Jared Goff (16) after a win over the Cardinals.
Rams head coach Sean McVay congratulates quarterback Jared Goff (16) after a win over the Cardinals last season.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Like a quarterback amid a pass rush, Rams coach Sean McVay stood mostly firm in the pocket Thursday, and even absorbed a few self-inflicted hits.

Under NFL rules, McVay is prohibited until March 17 to speak publicly about the trade that sent quarterback Jared Goff and two first-round draft picks to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

But questions about Goff came anyway during a 40-minute videoconference call with reporters. While McVay sidestepped a few, he answered others.

In June 2019, a few months after Goff helped lead the Rams to the Super Bowl, McVay said, “As long as I’m fortunate enough to be in this role, hopefully this guy is stuck with me for a long time.”

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Less than two years later — and 17 months after the Rams awarded Goff with a contract extension that guaranteed $110 million — McVay and general manager Les Snead moved on from the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

“What I would say that I’ve learned over the last handful of years is things change by the day,” McVay said Thursday, “and you probably want to be careful making blanket statements when you can’t predict the future.”

The Rams lost seven coaching assistants this offseason, but after some hires and promotions coach Sean McVay has completed his staff for the 2021 season.

McVay is not looking back. He and a remade staff that includes new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris are preparing for the start of free agency and the NFL draft. Stafford is expected to be introduced after the trade becomes official at the start of the new league year.

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But McVay acknowledged that Goff provided “really great leadership” while helping the Rams make the playoffs three times and advance to the Super Bowl.

“He did a great job of establishing himself in this league, the way he handled himself consistently day in and day out,” McVay said, “and all I can do is just be appreciative of that.”

Goff, 26, regressed statistically from Pro Bowl seasons in 2017 and 2018. McVay’s frustration boiled to the surface this season after Goff’s turnover-laden performance against the San Francisco 49ers. It revealed itself again when McVay opted to start John Wolford in an NFC wild-card playoff game over Goff, who said he was ready to play after undergoing right thumb surgery.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) walks off the field during a loss to Seattle in December.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) walks off the field during a loss to Seattle in December. Goff had turnover issues in the 2020 season.
(Scott Eklund / Associated Press)

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“I’m not going to run away from the things that I could have been better for him as a leader and as a coach. But there was a lot of really good things that occurred.”

Rams coach Sean McVay, on quarterback Jared Goff

Goff’s fate was shaky when McVay said after a divisional-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers that Goff was the Rams’ quarterback “right now.” Snead followed by famously saying Goff was the Rams’ quarterback “in this moment.”

After the trade, Goff told the Times’ Sam Farmer that he could not pinpoint when the tide turned against him.

“That’s the tough part right now is trying to figure that out, when did that happen?” he said.

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McVay provided no insight about that question Thursday. He said he and Goff have had “a lot of conversations” but, “I don’t want to get into the specifics.”

“When you look back on the four years that we did have together, there’s a lot of times you can smile on,” McVay said. “And I would say there’s a lot of things that when I self-reflect, I certainly wish I was better for him in some instances. …

Safety John Johnson and linebacker Leonard Floyd had sensational seasons in the Rams’ No. 1 ranked defense, but it’s going to take a lot of cash in order to keep them.

“I’m not going to run away from the things that I could have been better for him as a leader and as a coach. But there was a lot of really good things that occurred from ’17 and on that I think we can eventually really have a much better appreciation for.”

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McVay, the Rams’ play-caller, said it was “an unfair narrative” to blame the quarterback “exclusively” for the Rams’ decreased production on offense.

“I have a big hand in that,” McVay said. “I have to be able to look myself in the mirror and acknowledge and be able to evolve and prove and take ownership in that. … I’m not going to run away from the blame.”

McVay said he could have been better at “consistent and ongoing communication” with Goff.

“I’m not going to make any excuses about it, but there’s a lot of things, even some of the decision making in games. Are you consistently putting him in the right positions to be successful?

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“And so, as a coach, as a leader, your job is to try to make situations and people you’re around better, and there are certainly some moments that I know I could have done better really for our team and for Jared in particular.”


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