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First impressions are impossible to overcome. After all, there’s a reason why there’s only one chance to make a good one. People will give up on restaurants, TV shows, or people if they fail to impress from the jump. In the case of Jared Goff, he continues to be haunted by his disastrous rookie season. It can be argued that his 5 TDs, 7 picks, and 54.6 % completion percentage over seven games were the product of a bad situation. He played for a coach in Jeff Fisher that had to start him at gunpoint and ran an offense that predates Knute Rockne.  But because of how bad he LOOKED and the expectations that came into the season he was already labeled a bust. People wrote that Jared Goff can’t win in the NFL.

A year later, the Rams invested everything in him. They hired Sean McVay to fix the offense, rebuilt the line, signed Robert Woods, and drafted Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and Gerald Everett. Sure enough, Goff turned it around putting up 28 TDs, 7 picks, 3,804 yards, and 62.1 % completion percentage. Surely that was enough to prove his critics wrong. Nope. Sean McVay’s innovative offense took the league by storm and Jared Goff was labeled a system quarterback. It’s understandable why people would think that. Watching McVay coach Goff right up until the headset cuts him off at the 15-second mark makes it seem that Goff isn’t his own player but a Jaeger for McVay to control.

This season was supposedly the make or break season for Goff, the year he would prove he isn’t just a Sean McVay meat puppet. The season started off with a bang. There was talk early on that he’d split MVP votes with Todd Gurley and even in the shootout with Kansas City, Goff became a superstar. Following the bye week, he and the rest of the offense looked dreadful against a mediocre Lions defense. Goff, in particular, played like Mox in Varsity Blues after he took everyone to the strip club. It was just two weeks prior he was labeled LA’s star QB and now the doubts were starting to set in. Once again, Jared Goff can’t win.

Last week, Goff threw four picks and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. McVay took responsibility for not emphasizing the run enough in that game and putting Goff in a tough position. Still, because Goff couldn’t overcome a buzzsaw of a Bears defense, everyone’s preconceived notions of him being a system guy were back in full force. His 27 TDs, 11 picks, 3,934 yards, and 64.4 % completion percentage don’t mean anything because it all belongs to McVay and Gurley.  So why doesn’t he get the benefit of the doubt that Carson Wentz gets in Philly, or Dak Prescott does in Dallas? It all goes back to the draft.

The Rams traded a principal’s ransom to Tennessee in order to draft Goff. This, despite not being labeled a Peyton Manning level talent coming out of college. Yes, the Eagles also traded a bounty of picks for Wentz (who was knocked for playing at North Dakota State) but Wentz came on hot. Before he hit the proverbial rookie wall he looked like a star.  Dak Prescott was a fourth-round pick and wasn’t expected to play. All eyes were on a first-round pick, Ezekiel Elliott. Dak only got to play once Tony Romo‘s back broke over Bane’s knee. He leads the Cowboys to a 13-3 season. He played well but he had the benefit of having a world-class offensive line, Zeke in the backfield, and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten weren’t washed.

Last year, Dak hit a sophomore slump but that was excused away by pointing out that the line was injured, Zeke was suspended, Dez and Witten were washed, and the Clapper was still the head coach. Prior to the Amari Cooper trade, the shine was beginning to come off of Dak but people were still unsure if Dak wasn’t actually a star or that the Clapper was squandering Dak’s talent while Jerry Jones refused to build around him. Once Cooper got traded to Dallas, Dak was a star again. Of course, he’s a star, he just needed a weapon.

Wentz probably would’ve won the MVP last year had he not torn his ACL in Los Angeles last December. This season the Eagles were the defending champs and Wentz’s spotty play was chalked up to coming back from injury and now he’s hurt again, this time with a fractured vertebra. Once again the Goff vs Wentz matchup won’t answer any questions. This might sound like putting on the cape for Goff but none of the above is meant to excuse Goff’s shaky play as of late.

Yes, the play calling has shifted away from Gurley, presumably to not break him down before the playoffs. It doesn’t help that back up running back Malcolm Brown is out with a shoulder injury and rookie running back John Kelly isn’t ready to be the second option. Goff’s decision making has been reckless and sometimes the moment still gets to him. The reason for the increased angst is that next year Goff’s fifth-year option is up and presumably a lucrative extension (Wentz and Dak too).

The football world isn’t sure Goff is worth that. Sure, he’s made great throws all year and has improved this season, but is he worth the BIG MONEY? The jury is still out. His first impression left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth that can’t be washed out. No matter what Goff does the rest of the regular season he’s not likely to impress anyone. All he can do is lead the Rams to the Super Bowl, win and be named MVP.

Actually, even if he does that people still won’t give him credit because Nick Foles won a Super Bowl MVP and he wasn’t even the best quarterback on his own team. Does Goff need to morph into a combination of Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady/and Patrick Mahomes during the playoffs? Then again that would come back to McVay further opening up the offense. Okay, so does he need to win it all, leave the Rams for Vegas, and turn around Jon Gruden’s decade-long Ponzi scheme? That would probably do it but then again, Gruden would take the credit. Welp looks like no matter what Jared Goff can’t win.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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