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  • Bonsignore: ‘Project Goff’ is underway at Rams headquarters

    Bonsignore: ‘Project Goff’ is underway at Rams headquarters
    By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | [email protected] | Daily News
    PUBLISHED: April 23, 2017 at 8:00 am | UPDATED: April 23, 2017 at 8:47 am

    From the inner sanctum of his Fired Football Coaches Association office some 2,500 miles from Los Angeles, Jon Gruden scoured the key piece of evidence in the case of Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff.

    The game tape, football coaches maintain, always tells the truth.

    And in Goff’s case, the images flickering from the big screen inside Gruden’s Tampa, Fla., based football think tank provided key clues to explain how Goff’s first NFL season deteriorated into a nightmare.

    “That’s an offensive line that has struggled,” Gruden testified recently. “That’s a receiving corps that has struggled.”

    Gruden could have added a flawed coaching staff short on both imagination and a proven track record of quarterback development, one that failed even the basic principals of providing support for a rookie quarterback. Like establishing a sound running game Goff could lean on – in spite of having reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley on the roster – or functional game plans, or a culture of discipline in which frustrating, drive-sabotaging penalties would finally be eradicated.

    And while factually true, it would have been speculative considering the evidence at hand.

    “I do think he went into a difficult situation,” Gruden summed up, politely.

    The result being a rugged rookie season that left fans and pundits wondering if the Rams severely over-reached by relinquishing six draft picks to move to the top of last year’s draft to select the former Cal star.

    But from Gruden’s vantage point, most of the dynamics involved were out of Goff’s control.

    The Rams, it appears, agree.

    And it has prompted them to devote almost every bit of energy and focus this offseason on improving the infrastructure around Goff and maximizing his chances of succeeding.

    Their Thousand Oaks headquarters is now the home of Project Goff, with almost every decision they make – including the direction they take in this week’s draft – motivated by creating an environment that helps expedite the development and efficiency of a position around which their world revolves.

    That includes building a coaching staff deeply rooted in quarterback development. And adding left tackle Andrew Whitworth, not only to help protect Goff but also to free up tight ends to be more active in the passing game and elevate Todd Gurley in the running game. And signing former USC wide receiver Robert Woods, a precise, dependable route-runner with sure hands who Goff can trust as a go-to target.

    All of it is designed to create a better environment in which Goff can excel.

    “Everything that we do starts with the quarterback in mind,” new coach Sean McVay said.

    That doesn’t mean their draft board won’t dictate they go defense when their first pick arrives early in the second round.

    But the Rams believe a pool of talent most analysts agree is the deepest in years will augment their Goff objectives.

    “From the beginning, when we had our initial meetings in December, you’re starting to go, ‘Wow, there’s certain positions (of need) where there will still be quality on the board,” Rams general manger Les Snead said.

    It’s an edict that began with the firing of long-time coach Jeff Fisher who, for all the laurels he rested on, could never figure out how to field a productive offense. And when presented with the responsibility of developing Goff, he woefully underestimated the importance of experienced coaching by surrounding the rookie with first-year offensive coordinator Rob Boras – a former tight ends coach – and a quarterbacks coach in Chris Weinke with exactly one year experience.

    It was a confusing approach.

    On one hand Fisher believed the Rams were a high-caliber quarterback away from being a playoff contender.

    On the other, he completely neglected the support system needed to assist the very asset he considered the missing piece.

    It was a recipe for disaster.

    Goff struggled with the learning curve going from Cal’s spread offense offense to the NFL. The talent around him was either incapable or not yet ready to contribute at a sufficient level. And the inexperienced offensive staff was helpless to provide alternative answers.

    The miscalculations eventually cost Fisher his job.

    It also underscored the importance of finding a new football leader with a proven offensive track record who could lay out a plan how to develop Goff and the infrastructure around him.
    The Rams quickly landed on McVay, who represents a complete reversal not only from Fisher, but the string of three straight defensive-minded head coaches covering the last eight seasons.

    None of whom could field functional offenses, let alone figure out a long-range answer at quarterback.

    “What you’re looking at right now, with the first offensive head coach since (Scott) Linehan, is someone who is going to put a priority on quarterback and how you develop the position by putting the right pieces around him in order for it to function at its highest level,” said Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ vice president of football operations.

    Groomed under Gruden and his brother – Washington coach Jay Gruden – and former Washington coach Mike Shanahan, McVay, 31, is largely responsible for Kirk Cousins’ assent from a fourth-round draft pick to a playoff-caliber quarterback.

    And while Washington didn’t have All-Pro caliber players across the board during his three years as the offensive coordinator, they were among the most productive in the NFL.

    McVay’s upbringing and the success he helped create in Washington – coupled with his dynamic personality – helped sell Demoff and the Rams on him.

    But more than anything, it was the detailed plan he articulated on how to develop Goff and the infrastructure around him – be it internally or through free agent and draft acquisitions – that convinced the Rams that McVay was their guy.

    “Did we hire Sean specifically for Jared? No. We hired Sean because we think he’s going to be a great head coach,” Demoff said. “But, we also recognize Jared is a significant asset for the franchise and we needed someone who could maximize him.”

    The coaching staff McVay built backs up that conviction. He’s surrounded himself – and Goff – with assistants deeply rooted in quarterback development and coordinating offenses.
    Combined, offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, quarterbacks coach Greg Olson and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer bring more than two decades of experience building quarterbacks and offenses.

    LeFleur spent the last two years coaching Matt Ryan with the Atlanta Falcons, and was Washington’s quarterback coach under Mike Shanahan from 2010-13. Olson helped transition Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from a spread offense in college to NFL stardom in Oakland.

    That’s an incredible amount of experience and resources Goff can lean on.

    “I think the truth of the matter is Sean’s entire world runs through the quarterback,” Demoff said. “Everything that’s been done, in Sean’s mind, is to give the quarterback the best chance to win.”

    That was the benefit McVay gained being groomed under coaching mentors whose quarterback philosophies all trace back to former ***** coach Bill Walsh.

    “(Quarterback) is the most difficult position in all of sports, it’s the most important one for the football team,” McVay said. “So everything that we do starts with the quarterback in mind. And our job is to make the most difficult position as easy as we can.”

    Of equal importance is improving the talent around Goff, which was painfully obvious after watching the Rams go winless in his seven starts to end the season.

    Some of the blame goes to Goff, who struggled making the transition from a spread offense to a conventional NFL scheme.

    But playing behind an offensive line that ranked among the worst in the NFL and with wide receivers that struck fear in no one, it was also impossible to get any sort of read on Goff given the amount of time he devoted to simply surviving from one play to the next.

    The Rams hope McVay can help get Gurley and receiver Tavon Austin on track, but they aggressively went outside the organization through free agency intent on creating a safer, more functional environment around Goff.

    Whitworth, a two-time All Pro, was brought in to protect Goff’s blind side, serve as a mentor to an extremely young offensive unit and anchor a line that, for all its bad play last season, still has potential.

    “You really look at what we’re trying to do, and Andrew’s going to be a big part of running the football more efficiently as well,” McVay said. “We have to get Todd going, he’s a very important part of what we’re trying to do.”

    Woods, while not the No. 1 wide receiver the Rams desperately need, is a precise route-runner with dependable hands and a willing blocker. Simply by being in the right place at the right time and consistently catching the ball, he can be a valuable addition.

    Goff was a keen observer to the Rams’ offseason moves.

    “Anytime they make any sort of investment on the offensive side of the ball, especially, it’s always helpful,” he said. “I think that all of the additions we made offensively and defensively were all great.”

Related Topics


  • MauiRam
    Rams burning question: Can Sean McVay make Jared Goff a poor man's Kirk Cousins?
    by MauiRam
    Cousins is pretty rich, so that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world

    Rookie seasons are rarely memorable for NFL quarterbacks, but Jared Goff's first shot as an NFL signal caller was entirely forgettable. He rode pine until late November, with Rams coach Jeff Fisher stubbornly sticking by Case Keenum. When he finally got the starting job, Goff went 0-7, was a little lucky to complete 50 percent of his passes and threw just five touchdown passes, three of which came in one game against the Saints.

    Fisher was fired midseason and the Rams cleaned house after 2016 ended, all while watching the Titans select a talented wideout with the top-five pick that the Rams handed them as part of last year's Goff deal. The Rams' next hire was a critical one and they went uber young with it, bringing 30-year-old Sean McVay over from Washington.

    (The Rams are back at training camp! Don't MISS anything as they prepare to try and make the playoffs -- take five seconds to Sign up for our Free Rams newsletter now!)

    Make no mistake, McVay's hire is about turning Goff into a legitimate quarterback. McVay's tutelage in Washington turned Kirk Cousins into the ultimate conundrum: a quarterback who plays well enough you have to pay him but not well enough to commit past massive single-year franchise tag deals.

    A lot of what you see with Goff and the Rams from 2016 is a case of Los Angeles putting major reigns on their rookie quarterback and limiting what he can do with a particular play. There are four guys running routes here but only one of them is really in play here. Goff is throwing to Tyler Higbee. via NFL GamePass
    It's not surprising for an offense to put a cap on a rookie early on and for coaches to limit the amount of things a player has to worry about, but Goff was so obviously locked into a single target that he was sometimes throwing before he finished his drop. via NFL GamePass
    Again, there are four routes being run but three of them might as well be decoys. This throw, by the way, resulted in a 19-yard completion and even set up a 24-yard Todd Gurley touchdown run. But let's not get too caught up in results. Everything about the gameplan in Goff's first start -- Week 11 against the Dolphins -- was rudimentary to the nth degree.

    The creativity level was about what you would expect out of the worst offense in the league. The Rams averaged a measly 14 points per game and trailed even the 31st-ranked Jets by a healthy margin in DVOA. On a critical 3rd-and-4 play call against Miami, with the Rams leading 7-0 and 2:32 left in the second quarter, here's what Goff saw at the top of his shotgun drop. via NFL GamePass
    It looks like rush hour between the hash marks. Ndamukong Suh ripping through the offensive line didn't help matters and it resulted in a sack. Pressure was a problem for Goff, who finished the...
    -08-10-2017, 01:22 AM
  • Nick
    Bonsignore: Here’s why Year 2 should look much better for Rams quarterback Jared Goff
    by Nick
    Bonsignore: Here’s why Year 2 should look much better for Rams quarterback Jared Goff
    By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | [email protected] | Daily News
    May 25, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    As observations go, it probably falls more into the can’t-be-seen-without-a-microscope category. But the most astute scientists will tell you items unable to be detected by the human eye are sometimes the most critical, so the relatively casual critique Robert Woods made about Jared Goff might foretell something more significant.

    Woods, the Rams’ free agent wide receiver pickup, and Goff, the second-year quarterback on whom so much of their future success depends, have been consistent workout partners almost since the moment Woods signed last March. Woods might be only 25, but the four NFL seasons he has accrued involved five starting quarterbacks. And that’s four too many, given the timing, chemistry and comfort level required for quarterbacks and wide receivers to prosper together.

    The former USC star would like nothing better than to develop a long, monogamous working relationship with Goff over the next few years, although that is largely dependent on Goff fulfilling the promise and potential the Rams envisioned upon drafting him first overall in 2016.

    And as the early stage of their partnership evolves, Woods is on the lookout for evidence to support that conclusion.

    A small sample of which was recently presented

    A week ago, playing against a certain defensive look in practice, Goff misfired on a throw to Woods. The two hashed it out in conversation and conferred about it in the classroom. And when faced with the same defensive package against the same play this week during a Rams’ Organized Team Activity practice, the result was decidedly different.

    “This time he threw a perfect pass,” said Woods, who seemed hardly surprised by the manner in which Goff made the adjustment or the pristine throw he delivered.

    These are traits Woods has already recognized in Goff during their short time together.

    “Work ethic, arm and accuracy,” Woods said, describing Goff. “You see him coming out here, always working, first to answer the question in the meeting rooms. He’s always listening. Always asking questions.”

    That isn’t to suggest Goff will make the leap from the struggling rookie we saw in 2016 to All-Pro in 2017. Or that long-term success is guaranteed for the former Cal star. But given the natural progression from Year 1 to Year 2, the rebuilt infrastructure and support system the Rams have supplied Goff with this offseason and the more certain and confident demeanor he has presented so far during OTAs, there’s compelling reason to believe the 22-year-old will take a positive step forward this year.

    “I think he’s done a nice job just getting better every single day,” said Sean McVay, the young coach with whom the Rams have entrusted...
    -05-25-2017, 04:19 PM
  • Nick
    How good, or bad, will Jared Goff be in Year 2? It's anybody's guess
    by Nick
    How good, or bad, will Jared Goff be in Year 2? It's anybody's guess
    2:09 PM ET
    Alden Gonzalez
    ESPN Staff Writer

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano witnessed the proverbial "Year 2 Leap" firsthand with Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The game started to slow down; third-down blitz packages and safety rotations became easier to pick up.

    By the end of it, Luck had cut his interceptions in half over the course of his second NFL season, his quarterback rating jumping from 76.5 to 87.0 from 2012 to 2013.

    And that brings us to Jared Goff, a downright mystery in the build-up to the 2017 regular season.

    Goff should be better as a second-year player, but by how much?

    The Los Angeles Rams knew he needed work when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, but they probably didn't anticipate him needing that much. Goff wasn't named the starter until Week 11, then lost all seven of his starts and finished with a Total QBR of 22.2, the lowest among quarterbacks who played in at least five games.

    But that was under dire circumstances. His offensive line was bad, his running game nonexistent, his receivers inferior and his coaching staff generally lacking in experience with his position. Now Goff is in a system that has proven to get the most out of quarterbacks, while operating behind an improved offensive line and throwing to a deeper, more talented group of receivers. And it's hard to really know what to expect.

    Asked in what ways he believes he is better since the end of his rookie season, Goff said: "I think just understanding the intent of stuff that we do and understanding what the defense is trying to do and what the intent of their calls are, and different ways to attack it. With that, the game just begins to slow down a little bit. I think that's what you ultimately feel. I felt it from Year 1 to Year 2. At every level you're at, you get that slowdown effect a little bit from those two years. And I think it continues to slow down as time goes on."

    The Rams have done their best not to put too much pressure on Goff, at least publicly. First-year head coach Sean McVay, who worked wonders with Kirk Cousins in Washington, has talked mostly about the need for Goff to limit turnovers and distribute the ball in an effort to open holes for his star running back, Todd Gurley, who didn't see many holes last season.

    The expectations remain basic.

    "We expect him to make good decisions, throw with accuracy and rhythm," McVay said. "If he does that, then I think he'll give himself a chance to play good football for us."

    Goff is at a point in his career where he will frequently flash his potential and also make critical mistakes, reminding you that he is still only 22 years old. He threw six interceptions during a three-day...
    -09-07-2017, 01:31 PM
  • Nick
    Why the Rams won’t let Jared Goff walk
    by Nick
    Why the Rams won’t let Jared Goff walk
    By Vincent Bonsignore
    30m ago

    Only two NFL quarterbacks started at least 15 games in each of the past two seasons and finished with a passer rating over 100 while leading their teams to consecutive division championships.

    One, Drew Brees, is a future Hall of Famer.

    The other, 24-year-old Jared Goff, has presided over the winningest team in the NFL the past two years, its highest-scoring offense, and is coming off a Super Bowl appearance.

    At some point over the next decade or so, Brees rightfully will be fitted for a gold jacket signifying his stature as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to set foot on an NFL field.

    As for Goff, well, if you believe the astoundingly lazy observations emanating from the furthest reaches of the NFL stratosphere, he’s little more than a product of the system he plays in and no sure bet to be re-signed to a lucrative long-term extension befitting his place among the best quarterbacks in the game.

    From those same corners of the NFL there is speculation that Sean McVay and the Rams are actually considering letting Goff walk at the end of his contract in order to pluck from thin air a younger, less expensive replacement for whom McVay will conjure up all his mystical and magical powers in order to seamlessly insert him into the lineup without the Rams missing a beat.

    Because, you know, system quarterback.

    The level of absurdity is almost too phenomenal to take seriously.

    But it’s also seeped too deeply into public consciousness to let go without comment.

    First things first, the Rams are not actually pondering a plan in which they decline to re-sign Goff when his rookie contract expires after the 2020 season. On the contrary, they are planning and preparing their landscape for a world in which Goff is making franchise-caliber money and surrounded by a supporting cast strong enough to ensure playoff contention for the foreseeable future.

    Yes, it will be a salary-cap challenge fitting a franchise quarterback contract into the payroll of a championship-caliber roster. But one for which the Rams are already formulating a game plan.

    It will require shrewd drafting, especially in the mid-to-late rounds, to continually come up with young, reasonably-priced developmental players that they can eventually rely on to produce. It will entail well-researched and disciplined thinking, knowing when to let veteran free agents walk in order to recoup compensation picks, who to reel in from the free-agent market and when to peddle off draft picks in order acquire instant-impact veteran help.

    But given how eight of the last 12 Super Bowl participants did so while their quarterbacks were being paid top-quarterback money, there is ample precedent for constructing championship-caliber rosters around highly paid quarterbacks....
    -05-24-2019, 03:01 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Jared Goff expects Sean McVay 'to bring out the best in me'
    by r8rh8rmike
    Jared Goff expects Sean McVay 'to bring out the best in me'

    Alden Gonzalez ESPN Staff Writer​​​​​​​

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Sean McVay arrived in Los Angeles on Jan. 4. The Los Angeles Rams' interviewing party took him to dinner that night in Santa Monica, then interviewed him at their facility the following morning. When they finished, McVay was asked to stick around.

    Jared Goff, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick who rests the franchise's future on his shoulders, was set to arrive later that afternoon to chat with his prospective new coach. So McVay and Goff sat in the Rams' offensive meeting room for two hours -- alone -- going over film and talking about how they might make it all work.

    Goff left hoping McVay would be the guy.

    "It was very positive," Goff said Friday, moments after McVay was formally introduced as the Rams' new head coach. "I felt like he was a guy I could play for -- and hopefully play for for a long time."

    McVay signed a five-year contract to be the Rams' new head coach on Thursday. At 30, he is the youngest head coach in the Super Bowl era. And at 22, Goff was the NFL's youngest quarterback last season.

    "Right off the bat," Goff said, "you could tell that his knowledge is extremely high. Far higher than a lot of guys."

    The Rams sent a passel of draft picks to the Tennessee Titans last year for the right to move up 14 spots in the draft and select Goff out of Cal. But Goff, who never took a snap from under center or called a play from the huddle while running an air-raid offense in college, struggled mightily throughout the preseason and didn't become the starter until the 10th game of the regular season.

    When he did, he played poorly. From Weeks 11 to 17, Goff had the fewest yards per attempt (5.31), the second-lowest Total QBR (22.1) and the fourth-lowest completion percentage (54.6) in the league. The Rams, ultimately burdened by the NFL's worst offense for a second straight year, lost all seven of those games, then went about searching for a coach who could get the most out of Goff.

    Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff, who led the coaching search, reiterated that the Rams were focused on finding the best leader and weren't specifically targeting someone for Goff. But Demoff also said, "You were always worried about making sure that Jared had continuity."

    He brought up the coach-quarterback relationship between Sean Payton and Drew Brees and that of Jon Gruden and Rich Gannon and how beneficial those became.

    "Getting that right pair with the quarterback was imperative," Demoff said.

    Goff believes he saw that in one two-hour meeting. "There was a lot of things we talked about in terms of philosophy, how the quarterback position needs to be played -- a lot of it aligned, and that was very good to hear,"...
    -01-14-2017, 12:03 PM