LA Rams: Did Jared Goff or Sean McVay hold the other back?

The presumption that the LA Rams offense was blessed with head coach Sean McVay’s genius and cursed with Jared Goff‘s poor decisions is pretty much the consensus among NFL circles right now. In fact, even as the Rams traded a very successful starting quarterback Jared Goff plus three very valuable draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, many of the articles about the Goff transfer to the Lions roster were about how quickly the Lions could shed the worthless Goff.

In those articles, they seemed to mandate that the Lions draft an unproven rookie quarterback in order to have a better chance of success. That doesn’t seem right. Especially in light of the fact that the Lions quickly restructured Goff’s contract to create $15 million new salary cap space.  That was an option available to the Rams as well, but they didn’t pull the trigger.

Even if the LA Rams head coach McVay is the offensive savant boy-genius that some have declared, Goff still had to execute that offense with some degree of professional precision and talent. NFL defenses did not simply roll over and play dead when the Rams arrived.

Was Goff the reason or the scapegoat for Rams falling short?

But yes, Jared Goff made some indefensible decisions on the football field. But he also made some incredible plays, too. In the end, was it all a wash? Did Jared Goff’s human errors prevent the LA Rams’ offense from achieving its optimal performance? Or was the play calling the problem, and Jared Goff was left to be the scapegoat in the face of defenses that had figured out the same old plays with the same disappointing results?

There is no denying that the pair combined for one of the most successful runs over the past four seasons as any head coach/quarterback in the NFL. The two managed a 42-20 record over that time span (Goff did not start in two games over the past four seasons). They also combined for a 3-3 postseason record.

And yet, here we are. The saga is not unlike the chicken versus the egg debate. Did Sean McVay boost Jared Goff’s career, or did Jared Goff boost Sean McVay’s offense? If this question keeps you up at night, you can rest easy now. The 2021 NFL season will reveal who was the true driving force.

Win-Win outcome

If Goff held head coach Sean McVay back, then the LA Rams offense should rebound significantly in 2021, reaching a Top-10 scoring offense ranking, as well as finishing further in the NFL Playoffs than the Divisional Round. If McVay held Goff back, then the Detroit Lions will finish among the Top-10 scoring offenses, and the Lions will win seven or more games this season.

What if both are true? In that case, it’s a win-win for both teams. Keep in mind that Jared Goff will have the benefit of playing under offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn and for quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell. For Jared Goff, it’s a chance to play football with less pressure and perhaps have a chance to enjoy the game once more. He has the chance to perform in a new, and perhaps less complicated, offensive scheme.

So far, Goff is showing up large and in charge of the Lions in OTAs. Of course, they are much like the reports coming out of the Rams OTAs about Stafford showing off his skillsets in the Rams’ newly-designed offense. Perhaps the only way to put this to rest is for both McVay and Goff to excel in 2021. There is plenty of room in the NFL for both teams to enjoy success. At least until the two teams meet on October 24, 2021. On that date, it’s only Go Rams for me.