With the NFL season less than a month away and the league’s preseason really under way, former Cal star Jared Goff’s hunt for the starting job is getting ever more heated. Many assume the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher will eventually give Goff, the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the starting job. But Goff is not being handed the job, as he came off the bench for the second consecutive game Saturday.
Goff’s second professional game, a preseason game for the Rams against the Kansas City Chiefs, started much like the first did.
Goff’s first pass of the day was dropped while he turned the ball over on his second dropback of the game. This time, however, Goff didn’t put it together on his subsequent drive. Though he managed to complete his first pass on a 10-yard slant to Brian Quick, the drive stalled out as Goff still didn’t look steady.
But the former Cal star put on a show in the fourth quarter, leading a drive to give the Rams a 21-20 lead and showing a strong effort from his running game. Goff went 3-3 on the series, picking up 34 yards and throwing a 10-yard touchdown to running back Malcolm Brown with 10:30 to go in the game. Goff, who went 8-12 with 82 yards and a touchdown in the game, had his next significant play when he kneeled twice to end the game with a Rams’ win.
“I started to settle in there after a few drives and felt much better as the game went on,” Goff said.
Case Keenum, who is entering his fifth year in the league, again got the starting nod for Los Angeles on Saturday. He put together a solid performance to make his case for the first string job in week one. Keenum played only two series but led the Rams to touchdowns on both drives. Keenum completed four of his five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Despite not getting onto the field until the second quarter, Goff notched playing time with the majority of the first-string offense for the first time, after playing with the backups last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He didn’t really get into a rhythm until he was back playing with the second-string offense in the second half.
Goff didn’t do himself many favors for the majority of Saturday’s game in his path to clinching the starting signal caller job. He looked shaky and uncomfortable in the pocket for large spans of the game, looking to scramble far too often. This led to his turnover, as he scrambled forward and fumbled the ball after tripping over his own lineman. Goff needs to take more advantage of his much-praised footwork within the pocket to fulfill his potential.
As is to be expected for a rookie, Goff still doesn’t look fully accustomed to the speed of the NFL, which especially manifested in his reactions to aggressive pass rushes. He scrambled out of the pocket and got sacked, fumbling the ball out of bounds despite having more than enough time to throw it away during his second series. Early in the game, Goff threw a pass on an out route that just floated enough to get knocked away — a pass that likely would’ve been completed in a college game nearly got picked off by the Chiefs.
His day was not without encouraging signs, however. Goff looked poised and ready during his scoring drive in the fourth quarter. His touchdown was vintage Goff, coming on a back shoulder throw to Brown who ran it in three yards for the score. Goff didn’t really get a chance to show off his deep ball this week, however, as conservative playcalling kept most of his passes right around the first down marker.
“It’s the same story as it’s been the last few weeks,” Goff said. “Every day gets a little bit better, every game gets a little bit better.”