He claims he wasn’t nervous. That he really doesn’t get nervous.
Jan. 6, 2017 — Rams vs. Falcons. We all know the ultimate result of that game was not what Los Angeles wanted, a 26-13 loss to the team that had represented the NFC in the Super Bowl the year before.
But still, not being nervous for the first playoff game of your career?
“I wasn’t,” Goff replied to the question during his Tuesday press conference. “I was more excited. And, sure, you have butterflies early on — but I wouldn't say I was nervous.”
If you know much about the even-keel demeanor of quarterback Jared Goff, that may not be much of a surprise. “It’s just who he is,” Goff’s teammates say — on and off the field.
That’s why it also shouldn’t be a shock that the quarterback has a similar feeling for his second playoff game, which is coming up quick against the Cowboys this Saturday at the Coliseum.
“I feel the same way this year,” Goff said. “Definitely excited to get out there, especially after having a week off, watching those games, you kind of get that feeling going again. It feels like it's been forever since we've played. We're excited to go.”
Check out photos from practice as the Los Angeles Rams prepare to face the Dallas Cowboys in Divisional Round.
It has been a while since the Rams last took the field — and it’s been even longer since their starters played an entire game. With Los Angeles building substantial leads against division rivals Arizona and San Francisco, Goff played 88 percent and 75 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 16 and 17, respectively.
But it’s not like the Rams have been sedentary since defeating the 49ers back on Dec. 30. Goff said he worked on a number of things to improve during the Wild Card bye.
“Just continuing to sharpen up on everything — footwork, pocket mechanics, being strong in the pocket, going through the reads, everything,” Goff said. “We had some good practices that we were able to get that done.”
Though Los Angeles defeated Dallas last year on the road, Goff has noticed significant differences in the team’s defense. That’s in large part because of Dallas’ new DBs coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard, who has received a lot of credit for improving the unit. Richard came to the Cowboys after spending 2010-2017 with Seattle, ascending from assistant DBs coach to defensive coordinator for his last three seasons there.
Goff said he can see those same Seattle coverage principles within Dallas’ defensive scheme. But the quarterback also said the Cowboys’ players are simply executing very well.
“I know they had [DE] DeMarcus Lawrence last year as well, but he's playing at a really high level again this year. They've added a few pieces there that have played at a high level with him and they've done some good things up front to do that,” Goff said. “Then, I think the linebackers are extremely athletic. Sean Lee is a great player, but [Leighton] Vander Esch stepping in for him and Jaylon [Smith] are both so athletic and they do such great things.
“Then, I think Byron Jones moving to corner, having the year he's had has been huge for them. Their secondary is good as well at the other positions,” Goff continued. “But, they've made some good adjustments. I think in these last seven, eight games, they've really found themselves defensively and have played well."
Now as Goff readies for his second playoff contest, head coach Sean McVay says the experience the Cal product has gained over the last year is the biggest factor in what makes him better prepared to lead the offense in the postseason.
“I think he's done an excellent job of learning from that experience,” McVay said. “I think he's a better player than he was a year ago. He's gotten better physically. I think he's got a better understanding of what we're trying to get done, what defenses are trying to do from an above the neck standpoint. I just think that he's better equipped to play at a higher level just based on getting better, focusing on the little things and doing it the right way one day at a time.”
And while Goff remains even keel as ever, the quarterback recognizes what winning in the postseason can do for a player’s legacy.
“You're always going to be what your record is, especially as a quarterback,” Goff said. “Winning is the most important stat and that's no different in the playoffs. Even a little bit more so in the playoffs, I think. That's definitely something that you want to do and you want to win.”
“Guys that win in the playoffs and win late in the playoffs and do good things in December and January, are usually the ones that are remembered.”