Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams fell short of their aspirations for the Lombardi Trophy once again. Following a divisional-round defeat to the Green Bay Packers, it seems one of the NFL’s brightest minds isn’t prepared to commit to Jared Goff.
Just a few weeks removed from thumb surgery, with pins still in his right thumb, Goff did his best in the cold to compete against the Packers. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as the Rams scored just 18 points and watched the final seconds tick away in another disappointing season.
As Los Angeles enters an offseason, with major changes already underway, one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks may not be guaranteed a starting job in 2021.
Sean McVay won’t commit to Jared Goff as starter next season
Jared Goff was more effective than many expected heading into Saturday’s game. He completed 21-of-27 pass attempts, a 71.8% completion rate, with a 105.9 quarterback rating. It was the 26-year-old’s highest passer rating since Dec. 6 and a significant improvement compared to his performance against the Seattle Seahawks.
McVay credited the team’s franchise quarterback for stepping up and making plays, stating that Goff did a good job against the Packers. Shortly after the praise, when pressed by reporters to discuss the team’s quarterback plans for next season, McVay wasn’t ready to firmly commit to a future with Goff.
“He’s the quarterback right now,” Sean McVay said, via Sports Illustrated’s Eric Williams.
Everyone immediately took notice of McVay’s phrasing. Then, when pressed later for clarification on the team’s quarterback plans for the 2021 season the Rams’ head coach once again couldn’t commit to Goff.
While he might say there is no firm statement committing to any starting position, the reality is that doesn’t apply to proven players. Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are all locks to retain their starting spots next season. Not only are they some of the team’s highest-paid players, but they’ve proven to be their best.
Even along the offensive line, multiple starting jobs are likely locked up. If left tackle Andre Whitworth wants to return for another season, he is guaranteed his old spot. Likewise, right tackle Rob Havenstein and right guard Austin Corbett will return as starts in 2021.
In reality, McVay has to be considering a change at quarterback next season. Goff is a good quarterback when he is given a clean pocket. According to Pro Football Focus, Goff ranked 13th in quarterback rating (105.6), sixth in completion rate (75%) and had a 16/6 TD/INT ratio when kept clean this season.
The problem is what happens when any pressure gets through or Goff’s first read, schemed up in McVay’s offense, gets taken away. Goff posted the fourth-worst quarterback rating (45.9) and threw the second-most interceptions (seven). His worst qualities came out against teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins. Get any kind of pressure in his face and the former No. 1 overall picks turns into a statue, often giving the football up in the process.
However, finding an upgrade won’t be that easy. Sean McVay would love to have Deshaun Watson, who is forcing his way out of Houston, but this team doesn’t have the assets to pull off that kind of trade. Signing a player like Dak Prescott or acquiring Matthew Stafford is also out of the question, given the Los Angeles Rams are $22 million over the projected salary cap next season.
So, McVay will have to explore bargain options. Whether that’s rolling the dice on Jameis Winston, signing Ryan Fitzpatrick or allowing John Wolford to compete with Goff for the starting job this summer. Either way, Los Angeles is living with the regret of that absurd contract it gave Goff.