The NFL’s offseason just started, but for front-office executives, vacation already has ended.
This month, teams will start to cut veterans with bloated contracts, then convene in Indianapolis on Feb. 27 for the league’s scouting combine. The NFL’s free-agent signing period starts in mid-March.
So it’s already time to look ahead. The Rams and Chargers both have a core of players under contract for 2018 but face big decisions. As part of an ongoing series, here’s an in-depth glance at the Rams’ quarterback situation:
2017 STARTERS: Jared Goff (62.1 completion percentage, 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns, seven interceptions)
RESERVES: Sean Mannion (59.5 completion percentage, 185 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions).
PENDING FREE AGENTS: None.
In danger of becoming a top-pick punchline on the level of fellow quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Goff rebounded in his sophomore season and perfectly executed Coach Sean McVay’s offense. Goff took tremendous strides in terms of pocket awareness and decisions with the ball, and impressively spread the ball around among a sizable group of receivers, tight ends and backs.
Goff also appeared more at ease in a leadership role. He’s not an extrovert, but Goff sees to be at ease with his teammates and, most importantly, has developed a tight relationship with McVay.
Goff also did a much better job of taking care of the ball, and had only one game in which he committed multiple turnovers. Goff also played his best down the stretch. In his final five regular-season games, Goff threw 12 touchdowns and three interceptions as the Rams went 4-1 and clinched the division.
Things didn’t end particularly well, as Goff completed only 53.3 percent of his passes (his third-lowest mark of the season) in the playoff loss to Atlanta. GRADE: B+
Goff made great strides in 2017 but he’s not a finished product. Goff’s biggest improvements can come against the blitz. He’s much better than he was as a rookie, but he still needs to speed up a bit against pressure, particularly when it comes from the outside.
Then there’s the Todd Gurley dilemma. So much of the Rams’ pass offense in 2017 involved getting the ball to Gurley, either on designed routes or check-down plays. In 2018, defenses will game-plan against that — just as Atlanta did in the playoff game — so Goff, McVay and the Rams must find a proper balance with Gurley in the pass game.
At some point, it would be good to see Goff direct a fourth-quarter, field-length drive to win a game, just to show he can do it. Thus far, his ability to lead the Rams from behind hasn’t been shown, but then again, they didn’t trail very often in 2017.
The Rams don’t need to do anything here, in terms of the roster. Mannion, a solid backup, is under contract for one more season. At one point, the Rams might have thought about trading Mannion for a draft pick, but things probably will remain static at this position. LEVEL OF NEED: LOW.