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David Carr: Why Jared Goff has struggled throwing deep

September 10, 2019 03:53PM
I am concerned about these trends.


Jared Goff came a long way in his first three NFL seasons, evolving from a struggling rookie in 2016 to an MVP candidate last year.

But the quarterback who helped guide the Los Angeles Rams to a 24-8 record over the past two regular seasons has been replaced by an imposter of late. Goff has struggled royally under pressure going back to last postseason (including Super Bowl LIII) and hasn't had nearly the success on intermediate or deep passes that we've become accustomed to seeing.

Over his last four starts, dating back to the 2018 NFC Divisional Round, Goff has a 29.8 passer rating when under pressure, completing just 33.3 percent of his passes for zero touchdowns and two picks, per Next Gen Stats. While not necessarily known for his production under duress, Goff's track record while playing for head coach Sean McVay the previous two seasons (12:6 TD-to-INT ratio, 42.4 completion percentage, 67.6 passer rating) clearly suggests the QB is currently in a funk.

One of the reasons that appears to be holding back the former No. 1 overall pick more recently is the team's reduced use of play action. Goff has performed far better under pressure when throwing out of play action over his last four games, but against the Panthers on Sunday, the Rams ran play action on just 26.8 percent of their dropbacks -- down about 18 percent from the two-year average in 2017 and '18, per Next Gen Stats. Calling more play action won't alleviate all of Goff's struggles under pressure, but the data and tape show he's more comfortable, composed and effective throwing out of action concepts during those situations than taking traditional three- and five-step drops.

His recent regression on intermediate and deep throws has been more head-scratching and concerning, as the Rams often relied on these chunk plays as a catalyst for their offense. Next Gen Stats reveal that in his two full seasons under McVay, Goff completed 50.9 percent of his passes of 10-plus air yards (ranks 10th among qualifying QBs during that span), for 4,249 yards (4th), 11.4 yards per attempt (T-5th) and a 97.4 passer rating (15th).

Where has that quarterback been? In his last four games (2018 playoffs and Week 1 of 2019), the Rams passer has mustered a disappointing 59.3 passer rating on those throws while managing just 8.7 yards per attempt and zero touchdowns against two picks, per NGS. In fact, Goff had the worst passer rating (18.8) of any quarterback in Week 1 on passes of 10-plus air yards, going 4 of 13 for 72 yards, including 0 for 4 on deep passes (20-plus air yards).

A lot of his miscues downfield are a direct result of poor mechanics. When taking a closer look at Sunday's performance, Goff's hips weren't open to the throw on a lot of his incompletions. His hips are naturally open to the right as a right-handed thrower, so he must be mechanically sound on throws to the left. On incompletions to the left -- there were several against Carolina -- Goff airmailed throws over open receivers because he didn't get his hips completely open to his target. When your hips are the issue, the throw feels good coming out of your hand and feels like it's right on the money -- until it's not.

Another area that gave Goff fits Sunday was the timing of his throws, most notably on his fourth-quarter interception. The fourth-year pro threw the ball after Robert Woods broke his route, so the ball was delivered behind the receiver, making it easier for Panthers cornerback James Bradberry to make a play. Goff must throw with more anticipation, and the way to do that is to make a conscious effort to do it in practice. Peyton Manning used to talk about how he'd push the anticipation on throws to uncomfortable levels during practice because then the ball wouldn't be late in games.

In fairness to Goff, it was like Bradberry knew Woods was running a dig route. There's more than enough film on McVay at this point that he has to keep advancing his route concepts so they don't become stale. If defenders have an idea of what the Rams will run -- despite the smoke and mirrors -- McVay's unit won't produce numbers even close to last year's. The coach has the talent to innovate and push the envelope -- he just needs to continue to do what got him the job in the first place.

I'm confident that if McVay can continue to be the creative offensive mind that he is and Goff can work through his mechanical issues, the quarterback can get back to the level we saw during the 2018 regular season. Sunday's rematch of last year's wildly competitive (and controversial) NFC title game with the Saints should be quite telling about the direction Goff's season could go.


  David Carr: Why Jared Goff has struggled throwing deep

Speed_Kills686September 10, 2019 03:53PM

  Yeah, that makes sense...

JamesJM163September 10, 2019 04:00PM

  Re: for me it verifys

Speed_Kills124September 10, 2019 04:11PM

  I think it likely that Goff...

JamesJM112September 10, 2019 04:15PM

  exactly, progress is not linear...

LMU9335September 12, 2019 04:22AM

  Re: Yeah, that makes sense...

max119September 10, 2019 04:20PM

  Well... I think he can be consistent...

JamesJM98September 10, 2019 04:24PM

  Missing Qb coach?

promomasterj93September 10, 2019 04:26PM

  Just for the sake of asking...

JamesJM89September 10, 2019 04:29PM

  Not really, ask that clown that Fisher hired

promomasterj46September 11, 2019 01:49PM

  every athlete knows...

SunTzu_vs_Camus59September 11, 2019 03:32AM

  Nevermind Next Gen, his Present Gen stats have been bad

moklerman93September 10, 2019 05:20PM

  I know 'old school' ain't popular, but could it be...

JamesJM117September 10, 2019 05:32PM

  I think it's the learning curve.

moklerman77September 10, 2019 05:52PM

  Well, I don't know... but...

JamesJM68September 10, 2019 06:34PM

  Re: Well, I don't know... but...

CraigMatson60September 10, 2019 07:21PM

  Re: I know 'old school' ain't popular, but could it be...

CraigMatson68September 10, 2019 07:18PM

  Yeah, thats basically what I was getting at...

JamesJM74September 10, 2019 07:27PM