Finding LA Rams QB Goff success with progression reads

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams must fix QB Jared Goff’s struggles to come off his primary target in 2020

LA Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff has been a very successful quarterback in the NFL in his short career. He has led the LA Rams to the Super Bowl, has amassed a 33-21 record in the NFL, and has completed 62.4 percent of his passes over four NFL seasons for 14,219 yards, 87 touchdowns, and just 42 interceptions.  So far so good, right? After all, the LA Rams must certainly believe in the guy. They’ve made him one of the richest players in the NFL. And at a tender age of just 25 years old, that’s something pretty spectacular, right?

Well, Goff has a nagging problem with his reads that the LA Rams continue to kick down the road. He struggles off his primary read and has so far in his career. In fact, reports cite Goff as having the lowest Pro Football Focus grade in the NFL when he is forced to look past his primary receiver. Conversely, he is a top-ten quarterback when throwing to his primary receiver.  Feast, or famine.

A Gap, B  receiver, C the entire field

On paper, the fix is as simple as A-B-C.  A – The Rams offensive line needs to block A-gap blitzes. Linebackers clobbered the Rams pass plays last year as Goff was lucky just to get the throw off.  B- Goff needs to be faster and more deliberate in progressing from his “A” primary receiver to his “B” secondary receiver.  C- Goff needs to survey the entire field, ensuring that defensive backs cannot follow his eyes to the receiver and the ball.

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Goff found himself with just 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions after 11 games in 2019.  And the Rams had a three-game period in the season where Goff failed to throw a single touchdown. The Rams went 1-2 against the Chicago Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Baltimore Ravens. In those three games with 0 touchdowns, Goff tossed five interceptions. And this was a period of three games that happened after the Rams guaranteed the most money in NFL history, $110 million, to their quarterback.  The irony is that while Goff received the most guaranteed money in the NFL history up to that point, the offensive line responsible for protecting him is one of the most underpaid units in the NFL.

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Can Kevin O’Connell save the day?

When the Rams signed on offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, the initial reaction was O’Connell’s arrival indicated that head coach Sean McVay would step away from so much offensive play construction to a role of greater oversight of the overall team. While that may be part of the plan, the more significant role for O’Connell is to reinforce the development of quarterback Jared Goff in 2020.

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O’Connell worked extensively with shell-shocked Washington rookie QB Dwayne Haskins in 2019, slowing down the game for the young hurler and improving the play selections to ensure Haskins could run a fast-paced offense.

That same process can be modified to aid Jared Goff as well.

Progression read fix for Goff is huge progress

The LA Rams are several small things away from huge advances. Fixing Jared Goff’s ability to make progression reads and throw successfully to secondary targets is such a small step, but would result in huge progress for the LA Rams offense in 2020. That is just one such small fix that yields a huge improvement.

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Of course, it will take work. Not just from Goff, but from the offensive line, from his running backs, and from his receivers. But O’Connell has had incredible success with a far less quarterback in Haskins.  And that progress was so obvious, each week demonstrated visible signs of improvement in Haskins’s ability to make his progression reads. Now it will be up to Goff to replicate that visible improvement. Fix that, and the Rams offense will be better than it has been for many years.