Jared Goff had a night Thursday evening against the lauded Minnesota Vikings defense in an offensive shootout with Kirk Cousins. It was in primetime in front of the entire nation in a high-profile matchup with another Super Bowl hopeful, so all eyes were on him, and the hyped-up Rams’ offense. To say he put on a show would be an understatement. He threw for a career-high 465 yards on 26 of 33 passing and five touchdown passes, good for a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
He is one of only two guys in Rams’ history to throw five touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game. Norm Van Brocklin was the other, but not even Hall of Famer Kurt Warner had a game like that. And Goff is one of only three guys in history to have a perfect passer rating with at least 30 pass attempts, and his 33 attempts are the most by a quarterback with a 158.3 rating.
And the 23-year-old was not just dinking-and-dunking; he was flinging it, taking his shots, and did so in quantity. He made some “WOW” throws; throws of a top overall pick and MVP-caliber signal-caller.
His recognition and reads, along with decision-making, and ultimately his pinpoint precision was breathtaking. None of his five passing scores were easy. Some of them may have looked it, but that was because he made them look as if.
On this second touchdown pass of the night, he lofted a beautifully-thrown ball perfectly into the hands of Cooper Kupp. Yes, he was able to create space, but Goff hit him in stride and feathered it in which is a trait that seems to be underappreciated a lot of times.
— Midwest Sports Network (@midwest_network) September 28, 2018
His third touchdown pass, where “he dropped it in a Kupp,” was phenomenal; that’s the only way to put it. It was like one of those drills where quarterbacks practice dropping dimes, from distance, into a garbage can. But when they do that, it’s while standing in one spot with no pressure. Goff did it on the run and dropped it in between two defenders. It was Aaron Rodgers-esque.
Jared Goff is on fire in the first half. His third touchdown was an absolute DIME to Kupp.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 28, 2018
The fourth scoring pass showed off his underrated arm strength and sniper precision. The stat sheet says it was 47 yards long, but in totality, it was a 55-yard dart on the wire to Brandin Cooks and could not have been placed any better.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 28, 2018
And the fifth pass might go a little underappreciated because it didn’t look so special, but it was.
Jared Goff dimes are worth 25 cents tonight 💰
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 28, 2018
First, Goff manipulated Vikings’ safety Andrew Sendejo with his eyes and moved him off to the right side of the field, which allowed receiver Robert Woods to be isolated with linebacker Anthony Barr up the seam on the left, but that is something that does not show up on the stat sheet. And Woods’ quickness allowed him to get in behind the defender, where Goff delivered another inch-perfect dime which could not have been placed any better.
It’s remarkable to see after everything the Cal quarterback had to deal with his rookie season. He’s had his fair share of criticism and scrutiny since being drafted number one overall in 2016. First, it was, “He’s a bust.” Then last season it went to, “Oh, he’s just a game-manager.” And as recently as last week, it changed to, “He’s just a system quarterback; it’s all because of Sean McVay.”
But each week now, Jared Goff continues to prove the doubters wrong and shows that he was worthy of being taken first overall, even ahead of Carson Wentz.
In reality, every quarterback is a system quarterback; there’s no way around it. They all play in different systems that are supposed to play to their strengths. Joe Montana played in the West Coast offense, and Tom Brady has played in Bill Belichick’s for almost 20 years now. Brett Favre didn’t have similar success without head coach Mike Holmgren, with whom he won his three MVPs, had his Super Bowl appearances, and most successful seasons. Former MVP Cam Newton is having the best passing season of his career this year after the Carolina Panthers hired offensive-minded Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator.
Drew Brees has been the beneficiary of having Sean Payton run the Saints’ offense. Payton is a progressive mind that has adapted each season to Brees’ lack of mobility and declining arm strength. And Carson Wentz was fortunate to have Doug Pederson, an Andy Reid apprentice, and former NFL quarterback, as his head coach from day one. Jared Goff had no offensive line and Jeff Fisher’s “middle school offense” that has been known for ruining signal-callers, or at the very best, holding them back.
But it works both ways; it’s a symbiotic relationship, and the credit should be split evenly. These systems need someone to run it to its optimal capacity. Bill Belichick most likely would not have had the same success with anyone else other than Brady. Quarterback whisperer Andy Reid looks even better today because of the ability of Patrick Mahomes. Kyle Shanahan, another brilliant offensive mind, has not had the same success without Jimmy Garoppolo or Matt Ryan as he’s had with. The system is only as good as the person running it, and no one can run McVay’s better than Jared Goff right now.
And remember, McVay isn’t the one making the reads (pre-snap and during the play) or throws. He’s putting Jared Goff in situations where his quarterback’s elite accuracy, anticipation, IQ, and strong arm can be set to use, which is his job and makes him arguably the best coach in football. Simply put, Goff is the “pulse” of the system, as NFL.com’s columnist Michael Silver put it, and that is the case with virtually every good, successful, quarterback.
And with that cleared up, we should now move the debate towards, “Oh, Jared Goff is a legitimate MVP candidate,” because he’s that good. When you take a quarterback first overall, you expect him to become one of the best in the league and someone who will be able to compete for MVPs. Jared Goff is starting to live up to that expectation.
First and foremost, the MVP has become more of a quarterback’s award, especially over the past decade, so they will always have the upper hand over everyone else. Then record matters and the Rams are 4-0 and viewed as the best team in the NFL to most. 12 or 13 wins is not out of the realm of possibility, and highly likely, because of the division they play in, so as long as Goff has pretty numbers, he will be in the running.
And he is off to a great start. Through four games he has 1,406 yards in the air, 11 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. He is completing 72.4% of his passes, averaging a remarkable 10.5 yards-per-attempt, 14.5 yards-per-completion, and owns an outstanding 127.3 passer rating. He is on pace for 5,634 yards, 44 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, and a high completion percentage. Whether he keeps it up at this pace remains to be seen. But Jared Goff is developing the consistency needed to be great, and once he establishes that, he will be contending for multiple MVP awards.