Last Saturday against Oakland, quarterback Jared Goff completed a pass to new wide receiver Sammy Watkins on 3rd-and-2 for a five-yard gain. It was a key play that moved the chains, putting the Rams at the Raiders' 40-yard line.
But while the pass appeared routine, head coach Sean McVay explained earlier this week why he saw it as an exciting, encouraging sign for his second-year quarterback.
"We had a little bit of push from the pocket from the right side, [Goff] shortened up his fourth and fifth steps, stepped up, slid, kept two hands on the ball and then throws a nice, accurate throw where it's only going to go down in the books as a four-yard completion on the shallow cross, but that's good quarterback play right there," McVay said on Sunday. "Those are some of the plays that you feel best about because that's playing the quarterback position at a high level, both from [an] above-the-neck [standpoint] and then the execution as well."
"I think the play to Sammy was a good one. It wasn't as clean as you may like, but we did everything right up front, we did everything right on the back end with the receivers. Sammy ran a great route, sat it down. It was a huge third down and it was on the 45-yard line, put us in field goal range and end up finishing the drive," Goff said Wednesday. "So, that's a huge one to look back on and be like, 'Wow, even when it doesn't go perfect, it wasn't exactly the look we wanted, but we made it work. And were able to throw it to a guy that's new and a guy we want to get balls to."'
Goff's overall performance was solid, completing 16 of his 20 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. But the first-team offense as a whole had a strong outing, finishing the first half with 196 total yards, 12 first downs, 6-of-8 third-down conversions, and 17 points.
"I think [it boosts confidence]. I think it does for the whole team," Goff said. "I mean, just seeing it come to fruition a little bit and the way we were so efficient. Like I said, again, we were staying in great manageable downs.
"But, it wasn't like it was shocking," Goff continued. "It's something that we expected to do. We expect to play like that. We expect to play well and we expect to move the ball."
One standout element of Saturday's game was the lack of pressure Goff faced. He was sacked only once, and that was an elite play by reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. On Wednesday, Goff complimented the offensive line for the way he was able to stay upright.
"I think they've done a great job," Goff said of the offensive line. "The Oakland defensive line is no slouch. They've got some dudes over there and they did a great job keeping them away and giving me a good pocket. It wasn't just throw it and get hit — it was clean the whole night."
One other perhaps underrated aspect of the performance is Goff's communication with McVay. The quarterback has been highly complementary of the way McVay's messages come across in the meeting room and on the field.
"He calls plays well," Goff said. "I think I've said it 100 times — it's been more than I expected. It's been really great the way he brings the play in and the way he's able to communicate with us on the field. Even off the field, in between plays, we talk about a lot of stuff. He's just a really good communicator and does a really great job."
As for this week, Goff said the Chargers' defense will present its share of challenges. But having practiced with the club earlier this month, Goff does have more familiarity with it than he would otherwise — especially since the Chargers are implementing a new defense under coordinator Gus Bradley.
"Those two practices we had were really fun, getting a chance to see their scheme and see what they do and they've got some good players over there," Goff said. "It's a bunch of good players and it'll be fun this weekend to play them again."
McVay said Goff is expected to play around the same number of snaps as last week on Saturday, which would likely be about two quarters.
"I think we'll probably going to approach it more similar to last week, just being mindful of some different players and on both sides of the football and just the overall outlook of being mindful of that September 10th game being very important," McVay said.
Especially with rosters remaining at 90 players for the entire preseason, it appears more likely than not that Saturday's matchup will be Goff's last game action before the regular season begins. Goff said he's fine if it's the case, though no one has discussed any playing time with him beyond that of this week.
Still, Goff said there's not much left he'd like to experience in a game that doesn't count.
"I'd love to get a two-minute drive. I don't think I've done that yet this preseason," Goff said. "That would be great — end of the half, get a two-minute drive. I think we had a good long drive there on my last one in Oakland. I think it was 17 plays, but it wasn't quite the two-minute tempo. That would be a good thing to get. Besides that, I think we've done basically everything — 3rd-and-long, 3rd-and-short, all that stuff."
McVay said he'd like to see Goff remain consistent and build off his performance from last week. If the quarterback is able to do that, the Rams should be in solid position to head into the regular season.
"I think you want to just see consistency and you sound like a broken record, but it's just making good decisions, being a good distributor of the football and just taking it one play at a time," McVay said. "I know he'll be the first to tell you that there's a couple things that we all can do a little bit better with, but for the most part I thought it was a good outing for him. I want to see the same type of thing moving into this week against an excellent defense in the Chargers."