Rams quarterback Jared Goff had a chance to go from being the first overall pick to a Super Bowl winner faster than any other quarterback in league history, but Sunday night’s performance showed that he might not be as far along the learning curve as it seemed earlier in the season.
Among the things that threw Goff and the rest of the Rams offense was the way the Patriots defense disguised what they were doing by switching from one look to another once head coach Sean McVay’s communication to the quarterback was cut off. They also used more zone defense than usual as a way of keeping Goff off his toes.
“We wanted to make it tough on him,” safety Devin McCourty said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “We knew we couldn’t just give him the same looks, because he does a good job with McVay of being able to lead defenses and get to the play they want. So we knew if we switched it up and made it tough, it would give us a chance.”
The NFL is a copycat league, so it’s a good bet that other teams are going to try to do similar things to Goff and the Rams next season. That makes it clear where Goff needs to go this offseason.
“I’d like to play better in a moment like this,” Goff said, via Mike Silver of NFL Media. “And I will be better because of it. I’ll try to learn from it, and process it, and get better moving forward. I understand all that. But it’s pretty tough to think about right now, because we had a great opportunity, and we didn’t capitalize on it. It’s my job to lead us. I didn’t get it done, and it sucks.”
Goff’s shown enough promise that it’s fair to expect him to be able to learn from a rough night in Atlanta, but there will likely be a far amount of curiosity about how that process played out come September.