Yesterday, as the nation vented about San Francisco’s backup quarterback, Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher did likewise on the No.1 pick in spring’s NFL draft, albeit with a velvet glove.
Jared Goff won’t start for the Rams. Hell, he’s not even the first backup. He’s at No. 3 on the depth chart.
In Minnesota last night, a preseason finale where the first-stringers spend three hours in pads winking at the girls in the stands, Goff led the backups on the Rams to a touchdown in an opening drive and stunk up the joint after that. I think he went 6-for-16 overall, but after a while I watched “Tyrant” DVDs because this girl is freaking gorgeous.
Goff goofed in the preseason. The quarterback of the future completed 22 of 49 (44.9 percent) attempts for 232 yards (4.73 yards per attempt), two touchdowns, two interceptions, three fumbles and a 55.8 passer rating.
Considering what the Rams surrendered to draft Goff, four picks in this year’s draft was only part of the haul, people are understandably freaking out. I like that the Rams returned to LA, but I care more about Goff’s future than I do about you-know-who’s socks.
It wasn’t that long ago when — if a quarterback was a top draft pick — he was expected to sit and learn for quite a while. It’s the right call here.
I realize that’s not what people who shelled out dough for jerseys and tickets want to hear.
They want to get excited about a future that doesn’t include Case Keenum or Sean Mannion.
I also understand EA Sports “Madden” video games make us all believe we are just one cheat code away from being an NFL quarterback, but the position is hard to master from level to level. You don’t pass much in youth leagues. You do in high school. The athletic talent level increases dramatically in college, and the intellect and athleticism spike dramatically in the NFL. You can up-up-triangle-down-X your way out of a blitz from the Cardinals.
Goff has no business starting. Consider some recent quarterbacks who did in their first year. Robert Griffin III did lead the Redskins to the playoffs, but that was with a simplified playbook and he still blew out his knee. And he’s trying to rebuild his career with the Cleveland Browns. Good luck with that.
For every Ben Roethelisberger, there are two or three JaMarcus Russells. For every Russell Wilson, there is a J.P. Lowsman and a Matt Leinart. For every Cam Newton, and the jury is still out on him after that Super Bowl disaster, there is a Cade McNown, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf and a Brady Quinn. Maybe even a Tim Couch.
The thesis being for every rookie quarterback pressed into service, the odds favor flameout better than they do fabulous. Even Derek Carr, who by most accounts exceeded expectations in year two, has his doubters because Oakland is loaded with younger elite players. Can Carr keep up, is the question.
So Goff on the bench is a smarter move to me. The Rams run the ball better than they pass, anyway. Besides, there is one area where L.A. needs to be assured that Goff was the right move: work ethic.
Earlier, I mentioned you-know-who, the 49ers quarterback turned social activist. He, too, was once the hot future all-everything in the NFL. Granted, he didn’t get playing time until his second year, but it didn’t take long for NFL defenses to adjust. And because he was more concerned with kissing his own biceps than adjusting his game, he failed, too.
Ultimately, I’m suggesting to you that because an NFL defense is an ever-evolving tactical unit of violence, speed and intellect, younger quarterbacks need time to get acclimated. It worked back in the day. It’ll benefit the Rams and Goff now.