It was New Year’s Day 2017 and the Los Angeles Rams had just closed out their tumultuous season with a 44-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff wasn’t that impressive either, going 0-7 for his rookie season.
With a 4-12 record and a firing of Head Coach Jeff Fisher during the season, the Rams had their work cut out going into the offseason.
Fast forward to December and the Rams are on the verge of making the playoffs after nearly shutting out the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Outside of the Rams suffocating defense, running back Todd Gurley II provided the biggest performance of the afternoon, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 152 yards.
Sunday’s game removed any doubt whether the Rams can make some serious noise in the playoffs, considering it’s no walk in the park to beat Seattle at home. Los Angeles’ record now stands at 10-4 and this turnaround is thanks to Goff’s sophomore emergence.
New Coach Getting The Most Out Of Goff
The dynamic between Goff and new Head Coach Sean McVay has not only been instrumental in the team’s success this year but also begs the question:
Can Goff be the centerpiece that this revamped Rams team needs to develop a perpetual winning culture?
In his second year, the 23-year-old has increased his total quarterback rating (QBR) by nearly 30 points. This is the highest increase in the NFL only behind former teammate and current Vikings starter Case Keenum. Goff also ranks in the top 10 in passing yards with a completion percentage of 62.4 percent.
However, if the Rams are to secure a spot in the playoffs, the key to a deep run will be Goff’s health. Fortunately, it seems like McVay is being careful with Goff and sat him out during the fourth quarter in Sunday’s blowout win over the Seahawks.
Los Angeles cannot afford to lose a rising star like Goff to injury this early in his career. His performance in this year’s playoffs will help gauge how well he fares in high-pressure situations. The ability to thrive when the lights are the brightest is a quality any player needs to spearhead a big-market team like L.A.
Furthermore, if the Goff-McVay relationship continues to excel and with stalwarts like Gurley and Robert Woods in the mix, Los Angeles will be a force to reckon with for years to come. If this prosperity could, it could possibly attract big-name free agents and signings in the future as well.
Current Playoff Chances
Despite the big victory over Seattle, the Rams have all but locked up a playoff spot. A Rams win in either of its final two game or a Seahawks loss in its final two would clinch the division for L.A. The Rams still have to face Tennessee (8-6) and San Francisco (4-10) while Seattle still has Dallas (8-6) and Arizona (6-8).
The current playoff picture has L.A. up against the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) in a Wild Card bout. The Falcons, however, have a tough schedule ahead including matchups against the Saints (10-4) and Panthers (10-4), making them vulnerable to be knocked out of the playoff race.
In terms of potential playoff matchups, the Rams haven’t done as well this season against the NFC’s top teams, losing to Philadelphia (12-2), Minnesota (11-3). Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see how these last few weeks pan out for Los Angeles. Still, it’s safe to say that barring any injuries, Goff and the Rams will be nothing to scoff at.