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Goff Off to Strong Start in 2017

By every measure, quarterback Jared Goff has gotten off to a strong start in his second professional season.

Across the board, his numbers are toward the top of the league. He's completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 817 yards, with five touchdowns and one interception. He's No. 3 in quarterback rating at 118.2 — behind only Kansas City's Alex Smith and New England's Tom Brady. He's No. 7 in yards passing. He's No. 3 in completion percentage. And he's No. 1 at 10.1 yards per attempt.

These results indicate a player taking a significant step from Year 1 to Year 2 — something that's resonated with Goff's teammates.

"What's crazy is how much he humbled himself and just went to work," left guard Rodger Saffold said after last week's victory. "He is just gradually becoming the quarterback that we want him to be and the way that he's supposed to be."

Should folks be surprised by those numbers? Well, that's not really on Goff's radar.

"Like I've said before, I don't really care what people think," Goff said wryly on Wednesday. "We just come out here and try to get better every day in practice and try to execute and go out on Sunday."

Goff did give much of the credit for his success to those around him. He mentioned head coach Sean McVay's ability as a play caller, as well as players like running back Todd Gurley and wideouts Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, and Cooper Kupp making things happen after the catch. Goff is currently fourth in the league, receiving an average of 6.84 of his passing yards after the catch.

But it's the offensive line that makes the unit tick, and it's a group Goff feels hasn't gotten enough praise for its play. The quarterback is also No. 6 in average length of his completions at 7.49 yards, which speaks to the way he's been protected up front.

"I can't say enough about those guys. They haven't gotten any credit and it's been mainly them," Goff said. "I know Todd would say the same thing — he's been running well but he's not running anywhere without any holes. He's not catching the ball out of the backfield and Robert, and Sammy, and Cooper, and Tavon, and all the guys we got aren't catching the ball if we don't have time."

Even though Woods was not with the team in 2016, he's noticed ways in which Goff has grown even since the spring, describing the quarterback as poised and confident.

"I would say the biggest thing is his confidence," Woods said. "You see it at practice, you see it in games and we just have to keep it high. There's really no stopping him when he's feeling himself and feeling good."

Woods is one of the skill players who has helped Goff develop that sense of confidence, along with many of the club's offseason — and in Watkins' case in-season — additions. And seeing success both on the practice field and in games has built trust and belief in one another.

"I think the whole team is feeling pretty good right now. We're very grounded and understand we need to get better, but we believe in each other. I think that's the biggest part of it," Goff said. "I believe in Sammy, Sammy believes in me — and vice versa with every receiver on the team and the O-line. And I think that's the most important thing. I think you can build that confidence through, like I said, success on the practice field and success when communicating and stuff like that."

While the team may be feeling good, it's not like anyone is content with being 2-1. It wasn't long ago the Rams held that same record after three games.

"We started off 3-1 last year and saw the way that went, so it doesn't mean much," Goff said. "It means we started off well, but you break the season into quarters. And if we are able to finish this one with the win, it would be a good quarter for us and [we'll] be ready to go for another good second quarter — [that] is the plan. But right now we're just focused on going out there Sunday and playing as best we can."

Kristen Lago contributed reporting.

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