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There's no way around it, Jared Goff was a mess last year as a rookie, but it wasn't all his fault. Former Rams offensive coordinator Rob Boras' game plan was regressive at best, as it forced Goff to place throws into tight windows, which he isn't yet prepared to do.
Replacing head coach Jeff Fisher with former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay was a lifesaver for Goff. McVay was the architect behind Kirk Cousins' Pro Bowl season in 2016, and Cousins' regression since his departure speaks volumes about McVay's ability to get the most out of limited quarterbacks.
What McVay did for Goff in the preseason is what he did for Cousins last year. He gave Goff easily defined openings and allowed him to get comfortable and in a rhythm. That carried over to Week 1 of the regular season, where Goff shredded the Indianapolis Colts.
Last year's No. 1 overall pick had his first 300-yard game in the NFL, as he completed 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown. Yes, the Colts defense is a hot mess, but put that aside for the moment. With McVay's passing concepts and new targets like Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp aiding him, Goff demonstrated significant development Sunday.
Cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner each had pick-sixes against Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien, so the final 46-9 score was about far more than Goff. But for the first time in his NFL career, Goff looked like a quarterback you can build an offense around.
Many of Goff's throws in this game were quick passes on slants and other fast angular routes between defenders, but Goff wasn't just taking easy reads here; he was consistently throwing with anticipation. In other words, he had the confidence in the system to throw the ball to where the receiver would be. He also used play action to draw Indianapolis' linebackers in, and then he hit his receivers at the second level with timing and rhythm. Goff was in control of the passing game and didn't make any horrendous throws, which was an enormous improvement over his rookie season and several of his games at Cal. Goff has never been consistently accurate, but he's starting to turn that around with a coach who will give him confidence.
Goff's 18-yard touchdown pass to Kupp with 5:20 left in the first half was the obvious highlight. Kupp ran a deep post from the left outside position in a tight formation, pinballed between two Colts defenders and cut inside to get to the end zone. Goff's timing and sense of communication with Kupp, a rookie, has been impressive through the preseason and into the regular season.
Goff will face far more challenging defenses than Indianapolis', and there's no doubt he'll endure his fair share of struggles during his second NFL season. But in McVay's system, he at least looks like a professional quarterback. That's a massive upgrade from the 2016 season.
— NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar
This news has been published by title NFL1000 Week 1 Notebook: Rookie RBs Kareem Hunt, Tarik Cohen Break Out
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