The idea of Jared Goff starting Week 1 for the Los Angeles Rams seemed like a foregone conclusion after the team traded a king’s ransom to move up for the former California Golden Bears quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft. But as we all know at this point, one should never just assume something to be true — especially in the NFL.
So as Case Keenum, not Jared Goff, will be starting Week 1 for the franchise’s rebirth in Los Angeles, it seems the biggest question that has to be asked is what went wrong. The Los Angeles Rams have so much to prove in their return to the city they once called home, and head coach Jeff Fisher, in particular, has to overcome the stigma of being the 8-8 coach who just lets his team succumb to mediocrity and collects his bloated paycheck on a regular basis.
Fisher and general manager Les Snead put all of the Los Angeles Rams’ eggs in one basket with their trade up to nab Goff at No. 1 overall. But to this point, it’s easy to argue that several other rookie signal-callers have outplayed the top pick, and that has to be giving the Rams buyer’s remorse.
The Los Angeles Rams’ rookie QB had another off night in the team’s preseason finale, with inaccurate throws and turnovers becoming common themes thus far in his young career. And if you believe what Fisher had to say following the game, not only are the Los Angeles Rams not starting Jared Goff during Week 1, but the rookie might not even be the team’s backup for Week 1. That responsibility could fall to the Rams’ second-year QB Sean Mannion.
Here’s a transcript of what the coach told the Orange County Register’s Rich Hammond via Twitter.
These were Jeff Fisher's postgame comments on Jared Goff: pic.twitter.com/nNyTrWo2H5
— Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond) September 2, 2016
So while the hand-picked QB of Fisher and Snead is disappointing with the Los Angeles Rams, some other rookies around the NFL are showing what the team could have selected instead.
Paxton Lynch, the first-round pick of the Denver Broncos, completed 13 of his 22 pass attempts for 214 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception — and that was just in Denver’s final preseason game. That shows tremendous growth for a supposedly raw prospect coming out of college who totaled four touchdowns and two interceptions on 58.8 completion percentage and an 86.5 pass rating.
And the numbers are even more startling for Dallas Cowboys fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott, who will start Week 1 out of necessity but also based on merit. Prescott has looked light-years ahead of Goff in his development, going 39 of 50 passing for 454 yards, five touchdowns, zero picks, and a 137.8 rating.
The stats from Lynch or Prescott sound a whole lot more like the No. 1 overall pick in the draft that the Los Angeles Rams just had to have, who boasts a 44.9 completion percentage, 4.7 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, two interceptions, three fumbles, and four sacks. Those whopping numbers produce a less-than-stellar 55.8 passer rating.
So while publications like the USA Today proclaim that Goff being called a third-string QB is no reason to panic, it certainly seems like the polar opposite of what a coach fighting for his job and a franchise moving to a new city would want in their inaugural season. The chosen one, who was anointed as the franchise savior, should be able to look like more than a player on the roster bubble against guys who are fringe players at best in the final preseason game.
But Vincent Bonsignore points out for the OC Register that idea is a two-way street for the Los Angeles Rams’ QB of the future. He too was playing alongside guys unlikely to make the team’s final roster for a reason, so perhaps a weak supporting cast only exacerbated Goff’s struggles.
Regardless of where you come down on this chicken or the egg debate, it seems clear that the Los Angeles Rams have a long row to hoe with their franchise QB who’s likely to begin the season as the third-stringer. And if Keenum can’t lead the Rams to a winning season in their return to Los Angeles, it’s coach Jeff Fisher who will likely have to answer for it.
[Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]