Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams had a tough season in 2019. After making it to the Super Bowl one year earlier, Goff and the offense struggled to a 9-7 record and missed the postseason for the first time in the Sean McVay Era. Goff took a big step back, but there is reason to believe he can turn it around in 2020.
How Jared Goff Can Improve In 2020
Sean McVay took the league by storm during his first two years in Los Angeles. Simply put, opposing coaches just didn’t have an answer for his scheme, and Goff could execute at a high level within the system.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the league found an answer. Matt Patricia was the first person to come up with the general game script to slow down the LA passing attack, but Bill Belichick put said plan on full display in Super Bowl LIII. The league borrowed that blueprint in 2019, leading to massive offensive regression. At the end of the season, Goff ranked 15th in DYAR, 18th in DVOA, and 25th in QBR. This is a massive step back from 2018, when he ranked 6th, 5th, and 11th in the aforementioned categories.
The good news is that the team improved down the stretch. Following the bye week, McVay and company finally adjusted to the new defenses and began to use different formations. After boasting one of the highest rates of 11 personnel in the league, Los Angeles started using 12 personnel down the stretch. The results spoke for themselves, as Goff slowly but surely improved with the new gameplan.
Over the final five games of the season, Goff completed 66.2% of his passes for 1,643 yards, 11 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 98.2 passer rating. Patrick Mahomes he’s not, but this marked a drastic improvement from his early-season numbers. If the Rams can continue to stay one step ahead of the league, then Goff should come close to matching his 2018 and 2019 form.
Positive Touchdown Regression
Even if things don’t change from a season ago, Jared Goff is due for some positive regression. Last year, Goff became one of 62 quarterbacks to throw for over 4,500 yards in a season. According to Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Stats, Goff’s 22 touchdowns are the third-fewest of those 62 seasons in question. Touchdowns passes are just as much luck as skill, so the same type of season should result in more touchdown passes.
Adding to this is the absurd amount of bad luck Goff had near the goal line. Hribar’s research shows that Goff had seven completions end at the 1-yard line. This was the most in the league, and not a single one later resulted in a touchdown pass.
A large reason for Los Angeles’ relatively underwhelming passing attack was the complete decline of their offensive line. In 2017 and 2018, this unit was one of the best in the league. However, the 2019 unit was one of the NFL’s worst, ranking at or near the bottom of just about every efficiency stat.
The Rams didn’t do too much to address this problem in the offseason, but they might not need to. It’s hard for any offensive line to be THAT bad for multiple seasons, especially when there is a decent amount of talent on the roster. Now, this group is far from the 2014 Dallas Cowboys, but should be serviceable if it can just creep back towards average.
Jared Goff probably won’t win MVP in 2020, but he should improve on his disappointing 2019 season. McVay’s improved scheme combined with some positive regression for his touchdowns and offensive line play should lead to another productive season for the former first-overall pick.
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