The Rams had higher expectations for Jared Goff when they traded up to select the California quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Goff, however, struggled to learn the offense and didn't even play until he made his first start in Week 11. Even then, he was underwhelming with a completion percentage of 54.6 percent while throwing for 1,089 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Rams fired coach Jeff Fisher and replaced him with 31-year-old Sean McVay, who is ready to hit the reset button on Goff as the 22-year-old quarterback tries to learn a new offense.
"You start from scratch," McVay told reporters Wednesday during the NFC coaches breakfast on the final day of the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "With him, the first thing is being able to learn our verbiage, how to call a play, get in and out of the huddle and understand the intent of the play, the mechanics, what are the problems with it. It’s a daily process and it’s very important for us to incrementally give him our offense and help him learn that.
"Once we get out on to the grass, I think we’ll have a much better idea. It’s one thing to sit in the meeting room, talk about it, then him being able to regurgitate that information. It’s a totally different thing when you’re accepting a snap, you’re having to decipher a coverage and how that dictates and determines where I’m going to go, what’s the timing and rhythm. Once you get on to the grass, that’s really where we’ll start to see how much he’s able to retain. Then based on the more that he can handle, the more we’ll give him. But it’s starting from ground one. And that’s really for everybody when you’re teaching them a system."
Before joining the Rams in January as the youngest head coach in NFL history, McVay spent three seasons as offensive coordinator in Washington.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins flourished, throwing for 9,000 yards with 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions over the last two seasons. He was also sacked just 23 times in 16 games last season after taking 26 sacks over the entire 2015 season. Goff, conversely, was sacked 26 times in seven games last season.
"If he had one priority for Jared, it’s this ... Sean, coming from his background, really wants the quarterback to understand protections," Rams general manager Les Snead told NFL Network. "Because at that point, during the course of a game he should know where his protections are weak and strong, and know: 'Uh oh, we’ve got a problem coming — but the offense has a built-in answer and I’ve got to get to that answer real quick.' And I think that would be progress of where Sean would want Jared to get."
The Rams went from an NFL-low 18 sacks allowed in 2015 to 49 sacks allowed last season. Part of that was the offensive line, which the Rams tried to bolster this season by signing former Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth. Part of it was inexperience on the part of both Goff and former Rams quarterback Case Keenum. McVay said he will rely on the 35-year-old Whitworth to be sort of a mentor for Goff.
The Rams will also try to add more offensive weapons after losing receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick and tight end Lance Kendricks in free agency. Because they gave up so much in the draft to select Goff, the Rams do not hold a first-round pick in next month's NFL Draft and won't pick until 37th overall. Thankfully for the Rams, it is an extremely deep class for wide receivers and they could still get a game-breaking player at 37.
Because offenses in college football are throwing the ball more than ever, Snead said there should be "a lot of players to pick from."
"You can never have enough playmakers," McVay said. "We’ve got some guys that we think are playmakers, but you can never have enough of those guys.
"You feel fortunate that in the draft, I think there’s a lot of depth at that receiver, that tight end spot. Les (Snead) has done a great job of filling me in — he’s a little bit further along, in terms of his evaluation of where those guys are at and kind of how that might affect what we’ll do with those eight picks that we have."