It was a rough season for Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
Yes, he threw for 4,638 yards, but he also threw more passes than anyone in the NFL at 626. His touchdowns dipped from 32 in 2018 to 22, he threw a career-high 16 interceptions and he posted a passer rating of 86.5, by far his lowest mark since his rookie campaign.
The Rams failed to make the playoffs largely as a result of Goff’s struggles, which has led some to question whether or not he was worth the massive contract extension Los Angeles handed him before the season began.
So, here are the three main takeaways from 2019 for Goff:
3. He still struggles reading defenses
A big criticism against Goff going into 2019 was that he could not read defenses like other elite quarterbacks and that he relied heavily on Sean McVay basically telling him what to do.
That was pretty clear this year, as Goff once again has difficulty reading defenses at the line of scrimmage, which was compounded by the lack of a consistent play-action (more on that in a bit).
All of the top quarterbacks in the NFL can adjust on the fly, which is something that Goff has not been able to do over the course of his first four seasons in the league.
Generally, that is not something you can learn; it’s something you either have or don’t have, and Goff’s lack of improvement in that area is concerning.
2. His arm strength is a problem for the Rams
Goff doesn’t have a noodle arm, but he doesn’t exactly have a cannon either, and when you aren’t consistently making those short-to-intermediate throws, that becomes a pretty big problem.
While you can absolutely be an elite quarterback without regularly throwing the deep ball (just ask Drew Brees), you have to be pretty special otherwise to overcome it, and Goff just doesn’t check those boxes.
In spite of not being able to throw down the field that well, Goff completed just 62.9 percent of his passes in 2019. That’s okay if you are constantly taking vertical shots, but that isn’t what Goff is known for.
Goff is at his best with the threat of play-action, but when that threat isn’t there, he has difficulty squeezing throws into tight windows like the upper echelon signal-callers.
And if you aren’t going to hit on the deep ball, you need to be completing a high percentage of your passes to maximize efficiency. Goff did not do that this season.
1. He looked lost without a healthy Todd Gurley
The biggest theme in LA’s struggles this season was the health of Todd Gurley, who clearly was not 100 percent and may never be the same running back again due to his knee issues.
That presents a big problem for Goff, who made a living off of play-action fakes to Gurley in 2017 and 2018.
But with Gurley struggling, defenses no longer have to worry as much about him beating them, so they can completely take the play-action pass away from Goff, which is what happened this season.
For a Rams team that just extended Goff, this is scary, because we don’t really know if he can excel without an elite halfback behind him.
This will certainly be something to monitor next season.