LA Rams offense relies upon Jared Goff’s – legs?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams offense will succeed in 2020 as long as Jared Goff’s legs help him to avoid significant pressure

The LA Rams offense is running it back this year.  The team’s offensive line, ranked 31st in the NFL in 2019, was battered and injured by season’s end. The team lost four starters on the line and all five had some medical matters that required recovery. But that was then, this is now. And now, the Rams are making another go of it with the same familiar faces on the offensive line. While the team hopes for a better performance this year, they have taken measures just in case of the offensive line struggles once more.

The Rams will have two tight end packages ready for each game. The team will have two or three wide receiver sets ready to go as well. Finally, the offense has as many as five options to choose from for running back to round out the offense.

Protecting the quarterback

But there, in the eye of the storm, stands one man, QB Jared Goff. He was under a lot of pressure last season. The LA Rams offensive line was beaten mercilessly each week. Three players ended their seasons prematurely. All five had to seek medical services to be ready to play this year. All five are recovered, healthier, stronger, and more determined than ever. But the Rams are adding more layers of protection this year.

The Rams could not afford to go shopping for offensive line upgrades. Not only were funds too tight, but the impact of a veteran offensive lineman in this wacky season was uncertain. With only virtual team meetings to prepare players for a crash course on the field training camp, the ability of five offensive linemen to synch up would not always produce desired results.  So the Rams chose other options to help Goff in the passing game.

Tempo + footwork = elusive

Believe it or not, dual-threat quarterbacks were once shunned in the NFL. Those quarterbacks who were blessed with the ability to run were coached to be a pocket passer in the NFL.  So how did quarterbacks stay safe in the pocket? Well, there were those quarterbacks whose passing motion was so quick that defenders truly never had a chance to bring him down.  Miami Dolphins great Dan Marino was that type of quarterback.

The other type was the quarterback who could extend plays by moving around in the pocket. They were the type who made defenders miss. Historians would recognize the names of Minnesota Vikings’ Fran Tarkenton or Denver Broncos’ John Elway as quarterbacks who used their ability to move in the pocket to buy them time to throw downfield. For younger fans,  Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger moves around enough to buy time, but he is strong enough to be difficult to bring down even when in the grasp.

Go, Goff Go!

So the LA Rams revisited a bit of NFL archived history this past off-season.  You see, if the Rams cannot dramatically improve the wall keeping defenders away from quarterback Jared Goff, then the alternative is to make Goff more responsible for his own protection. So Goff trained this off-season at getting better velocity on his throws when off balance. He learned how to use footwork to avoid the pass rush, and to diagnose blitzes to recognize when he needed to do so.

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Now, all of that training will be put to the test in game one. While the Dallas Cowboys secondary is certainly vulnerable this year. the Rams starting quarterback will need to evade their pass rush long enough to pick it apart.  The Rams certainly have the weapons to do so.  Last year, Goff threw two touchdowns and one interception, completing 33 of 51 passes for 284 yards. Linebacker Sean Lee had a monster game for the Cowboys, getting an interception, a sack, and four tackles in the game. While is on injured reserve for game one, the Rams are in a much better position for this game to avoid a similar performance by a Cowboys defender.