For 10 weeks, Jared Goff has been waiting. First as the third-stringer, then as the backup, but never as the starter. Meanwhile, the crowd chanted for the No. 1 overall pick and the team’s offense plummeted.
And so finally, in Week 11, the world will see Goff as the Rams‘ starter. But according to those who see him improve every day, “waiting” is not the proper term.
“Yeah, some people say he’s been waiting,” Rams quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke told NFL.com this week. “No. He’s been actively pursuing the opportunity to start in this league. It doesn’t just happen because you show up. The kid has dedicated himself. … This was a process that began when he was drafted to put himself in the best position to be comfortable in this offense and operate it at a high level. And he’s put himself in position to start on Sunday.”
When the Dolphins defense trots onto the field today, fresh off forcing Philip Rivers into four interceptions, it’ll be Goff staring them down. The assumption is, the playbook will be smaller to help the rookie get acclimated.
Just the opposite.
“We’re not scaling back our offense, based on what he can operate and understand,” Weinke said. “What we actually can do is add some things that take advantage of his special arm talent. He can make a lot of throws other guys can’t. It creates some opportunities for us to maybe add some things that we haven’t done.”
At long last, the new and old Rams fans will see their franchise quarterback (they hope).
Fisher, who had shrugged off calls from his fan base to start Goff over incumbent Case Keenum sooner, simply said, “It’s time to move on. … It takes time, we gave it time.”
As for Goff, who clearly felt he was ready, he told reporters, “Anxiety is over, I’m good now.”
Reality is, it’s just beginning. Goff must improve on an offense ranked last in scoring. What he also must do is expand the field to help a stagnant run game, especially with star back Todd Gurley (3.1 yards per rush) having not ignited yet.
Weinke believes Goff starting will make Gurley better.
“They work hand in hand, where the pass sets up the run and vice versa,” Weinke said. “We’d love to get them both going. We love to pound the football, it’s what we believe in, and we can also utilize Jared’s arm talents to drive it down the field.”
Goff came from a spread system at Cal that didn’t huddle. His learning curve was steep. Fisher knew he needed to sit, with the hope being that Keenum could run the show for a year or longer while Goff learned. Instead, it’s a little quicker than imagined, with Goff being ready quicker than imagined.
He’s learned the cadences, learned the protections, learned how to call a play in a huddle like a pro. Weinke said Keenum has been incredibly helpful to learn from, and Goff has soaked it up.
There wasn’t one epiphany to show he was ready, but he’s been watched closely since he arrived.
“In a lot of ways, it would’ve been a disservice to start him early,” Weinke said. “The approach Coach Fisher took was the right approach. When you process a new language, it automatically slows down on your own. We wanted to get it where he wasn’t slowing down physically. He’s there. The guy has total command of the huddle now.”
It just won’t be easy, especially against a Dolphins defense that is coming into its own.
“No doubt, a huge challenge,” Weinke said. “There are no breathers against this defense. But the question is, what’s going to change for them knowing this guy is starting and what adjustments do they make? We’ll have our hands full.”
Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.