Countdown to Camp is a series breaking down the Rams' roster by position group heading into training camp. The fourth installment examines the quarterbacks.
In addition to serving as Rams offensive coordinator, Kevin O'Connell will also coach the team's quarterbacks this season. Since he didn't have the chance to conduct on-field work with them in the spring, Rams Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union will be his first chance to do so.
Primarily driving O'Connell's excitement about his group ahead of training camp is the opportunity to build on starter Jared Goff's fourth year in the offensive system.
"I'm excited to get to start going to work every day, and having a plan for Jared to incrementally get better each and every day leading into the season," O'Connell told theRams.com in a phone interview last week. "I know he's really hungry to get to work and get going and be a big time leader for us on offense."
Last season, Goff completed 62.9 percent of his pass attempts for 4,638 yards, throwing 22 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. O'Connell has already talked about giving Goff more ownership of the offense in 2020 to help him get back to his 2017 and 2018 forms, but he was also doing his part to put Goff in the best position to succeed ahead of training camp and eventually the regular season.
"I've spent a lot of time virtually with him, spent a lot of time on phone calls and Zoom calls, talking a lot about things, sharing video and trying to make things as visual as possible," O'Connell said. "But nothing can simulate getting on grass with your guys."
The quarterback with the next-most experience behind Goff is John Wolford, who spent his first season with the club on its practice squad. Wolford performed well enough in that capacity to earn a reserve/future contract with Los Angeles in January, and that contract allowed the team to keep him on its 90-man roster ahead of the offseason program and training camp.
Based on Wolford's progression last season and getting to know him after arriving in L.A., O'Connell said Wolford is "in a great place mentally, physically."
"I'm just really excited to see, with him getting on the field, getting more repetition with the group he's going to be with, if he can bring along some of those young guys with his vast knowledge of the system," O'Connell said. "And then trying to push him from a fundamental standpoint to continue to grow as a passer and in the confines of an NFL pocket. Without some preseason games, we're really going to have do to some things to simulate some things for John in particular to get him ready speed-wise for potentially being one snap away."
The Rams also added a pair of undrafted free agents to their quarterback room this offseason in Bryce Perkins (Virginia) and Josh Love (San Jose State). Perkins was an All-ACC second-team selection last season after breaking Virginia's single-season passing record with 3,538 yards. Love, meanwhile, was the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection after finishing with the third-most passing yards in a single season in San Jose State history (3,923).
"It will be great to get those guys and have them join the mix, and see if we can put together some great chemistry in the quarterback room that will only make our whole offense better," O'Connell said.
With Blake Bortles gone, one of O'Connell's primary tasks in the preseason will be vetting candidates for the backup quarterback role. That evaluation formula will include assessing how well players absorb installations in the meeting room, excel in competitive situations and learns from their mistakes. Biggest of all: Can they demonstrate that they are able to absorb information and be ready, if called upon.
"Having Jared there as a great example as our starter, of how we want a guy to operate, how we want a guy to execute our offense, really gives these other three guys a chance to observe that and try to apply the things they're not only learning from the coaching we'll be giving them, but also Jared executing at a high level as well," O'Connell said.