With former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff heading into his second season, one clear objective of Los Angeles' new coaching staff is to maximize the quarterback's potential. To that end, L.A. first hired Sean McVay as head coach — a man who helped develop Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins — and subsequently brought in former Atlanta QBs coach Matt LaFleur to be its offensive coordinator.
But arguably equally as important is the man McVay hired to lead Goff's position group: quarterbacks coach Greg Olson.
This is Olson's second stint with the Rams, as he saw success as the club's offensive coordinator from 2006-2007. But this time, he's coming in tasked to train a young QB who has much room to improve in 2017.
"I'm just real excited," Olson said last Friday. "I had a chance to evaluate Jared coming out of college and thought then at that time he's a very talented player with a ton of potential. And nothing that I've watched so far has deterred me from that same evaluation."
Goff finished his rookie year completing 54.6 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions, numbers all involved would like to see substantially improved. In order for that to happen, Olson said he feels Goff needs to complete the transition from college to the NFL and get comfortable in the new offensive system.
That scheme will be based around the West Coast philosophy, with which all three of McVay, LaFleur, and Olson have experience. Plus, both Olson and LaFleur have worked with McVay before — Olson in 2008 with the Buccaneers, and LaFleur from 2010-2013 with Washington.
"I think [McVay] and I right now are well ahead of the curve in terms of where we're at, philosophically speaking," Olson said. "And I had a chance to talk with Matt, too, and we'll certainly simulate some of those schemes that they've done in Atlanta because they had a tremendous year, but that's also West Coast based. So I think all three of our backgrounds are West Coast based, so I think that will come along very quickly."
So how does maximizing Goff's talents in the system fit into the equation?
"That's the big part, is with Sean's system and with Matt coming in, I just think it's going to be real critical that he has a chance to learn the system and get comfortable within that system," Olson said. "The more comfortable he gets with it, then certainly the more confidence he'll be able to play with. And then he'll be able to reach that potential."
Olson referred to how Goff's offense was run at Cal as one of the learning-curve hurdles the quarterback must clear in order to thrive at the highest level.
"They were in that spread system there and when you looked at it going back, everything he was doing was looking to the sidelines and getting information from the sidelines and going up [to the line of scrimmage]," Olson said. "And I think that in itself is a change in itself — just stepping in the huddle and being able to spit out the information."
"You've got to be able to process the information quickly, and then be able to spit it out," Olson continued. "A lot of things he was doing in college, he did it at the line of scrimmage with one-word codes. There's a little bit more to that in the NFL. So I think, probably, the mental aspect is probably more difficult on him than anything, because physically, he's what you're looking for."
Despite the struggles of 2016, Olson still sees plenty of potential within Goff.
"The ceiling is really high with this player, in my mind. Unbelievable arm talent, I think," Olson said. "And that's a the start, in my opinion, when you're evaluating the position, is what type of arm talent does that player have. And certainly a very intelligent player, when you look at his test scores and what he's able to do as a student. I just think there's a lot of intangibles there as well that we've all heard about about him, growing up from, again, high school to college and the NFL."
Heading into his third different offense in three years, Goff won't necessarily have an easy transition between systems — much like any other quarterback in a similar situation. But there should still be plenty of time to get Goff ready for 2017.
"With an offseason now and a chance to learn both Sean and Matt's system, and have a chance to take all the reps in OTAs and training camp," Olson said, "he'll be much more prepared to understanding protection, understanding hots, understanding sight adjustments, and that'll help him as well."
"And knowing, talking with people who are in the building, and people who have been around Jared Goff, really, throughout his career, he's someone who will put that time in and has got a tremendous work ethic," Olson added.
But to get the most out of Goff both this year and in the future, Olson knows developing a strong, trusting relationship between coach and quarterback will be paramount.
"I think that's critical as an assistant coach, or a position coach," Olson said, "that he's got to know that he can trust me and trust in what I'm telling him, that everything I'm telling him is about trying to get better."