The Los Angeles Rams improved to 6-2 on Sunday with their 51-17 victory over the New York Giants. That win leaves the Rams as the outright leaders in the NFC West and in great position to make a run deep into the playoffs. Head Coach Sean McVay has done a remarkable job turning around a team that went 4-12 last year with a rookie quarterback who looked like a bust.
It’s the upturn in Jared Goff’s performance that has been most surprising. To start the season, McVay did a fantastic job scheming receivers open in easy progressions for Goff to work through. But as the season has gone on, Goff has taken on more responsibility at the line of scrimmage. He now has the confidence to change a play that McVay has called, in cases where he gets a look he likes from the defense.
That may sound like a small thing, but it represents a significant step not just in Goff’s development but in the emergence of the Rams as a contender in the NFC.
This play is a perfect example. The Rams are lined up and ready to snap the ball, but Goff spots a look from the defense that he likes. He pops up and calls an audible. He can be heard on the broadcast shouting what sounds like “Wilma F Straight” to the rest of his offense, ensuring everyone has received the new call. Goff then walks back under center, takes the snap and finds slot receiver Cooper Kupp wide open over the middle for a big gain.
Later in the same drive, with the Rams facing third and 33, Goff takes command of the offense again.
Goff, in the shotgun, approaches the line of scrimmage and yells what sounds like “Tunnel Hoosier” on the broadcast. He resets and proceeds to throw a tunnel screen to wide receiver Robert Woods, who turns a simple screen on third and 33 into a 52-yard touchdown.
On the next series, Goff made another audible, but this time changed the call into a shot down the field.
The call Goff made wasn’t as clear on the broadcast as the previous two were, but he did make an obvious signal toward receiver Sammy Watkins.
The play Goff audibles into is a play-action deep shot to Watkins on a corner-post route. Giants safety Landon Collins gets turned around while trying to rotate back to the deep middle of the field, and Watkins runs right by him. Goff delivers a perfect pass that hits Watkins in stride, allowing him to walk into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown.
McVay is one of the top offensive minds in the NFL, even at his young age, and his play calls are typically very good. He’s done a fantastic job of helping Goff develop. But with Goff now having the knowledge of the system as well as the confidence and the freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage, the Rams’ offense just became even more explosive.
It takes great trust by any playcaller to allow the quarterback the freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage, which shows just how far Goff has come in such a short period of time. Goff won’t always have the same success rate as he did in this game with his audibles, but the early signs are very positive for the Rams, who have become legitimate contenders in the NFC with Goff under center.