Good Goff/bad Goff: Rams must find consistency moving forward

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- There's good Goff, bad Goff and very little in between for the Los Angeles Rams quarterback.

There's the Jared Goff who froze, then crumbled under the pressure of the Baltimore Ravens' defense in an embarrassing 45-6 loss on Monday Night Football in Week 12.

But there's also the Goff who proved resilient as he lit up the Arizona Cardinals and then the more formidable Seattle Seahawks in back-to-back games to begin December.

Then, with playoff aspirations at stake, Goff appeared hurried and out of sync with his receiving corps in a puzzling effort last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. The fourth-year quarterback threw a costly interception -- his 15th of the season -- before halftime to put the game, and likely the playoffs, out of reach.

"It wasn't good," Goff said about the Rams' performance in 44-21 loss in Dallas. "From start to finish."

The Rams have stumbled through an 8-6 season and are on the brink of missing the playoffs only 10 months after playing in Super Bowl LIII. To earn a postseason berth they must close their schedule with a road win against the San Francisco 49ers and a victory at home versus the Cardinals as well as have the Minnesota Vikings lose at home to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

This season hasn't been all Goff's fault, not by any measure. The defense, while stout at times, has failed to appear on several occasions, and the offense has experienced growing pains, as coach Sean McVay navigates adjusting a scheme that the rest of the league has figured out how to defend.

The offensive line, consistently among the best units in the NFL the past two seasons, has suffered from inexperience and a lack of cohesion, as their pass block win rate has plummeted from 74.3% (ranked 1st) in 2018 to 55.3% (24th) this season. Running back Todd Gurley, the focal point of the offense when he rushed for 1,251 yards and scored a league-high 21 touchdowns a year ago, has experienced uneven usage through this season's ups and downs.

Given Goff's four-year extension worth an NFL record $110 million in guarantees that he signed before this season, the Rams must figure out how to bring out the best -- or at least a measure of consistency from game-to-game -- from their franchise quarterback.

"He is the quarterback, so a lot of the weight of the team and the weight of the production does fall on the position," quarterbacks coach Shane Waldron said. "That's the nature of the beast."

Last season Goff helped the Rams to a 13-3 record. He delivered a perfect passer rating in an early-season win over the Vikings, put on a passing clinic in a Monday Night thriller over the Kansas City Chiefs and delivered an improbable come-from-behind effort to win the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.

This season? Goff has rated among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. He has passed for 3,996 yards with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His total QBR of 45.7 ranks him 25th in the league, sandwiching him between the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen and the Bears' Mitchell Trubisky.

Goff says he tries not to put too much weight on the numbers because they can be skewed. So how does he measure success?

"When we win is when I feel the best, and I think that's a quarterback's job is to win," said Goff, who has a 34-15 record, including playoffs, since 2017. "By no means does that mean play bad every week and win and you're happy."

Goff's 15 interceptions exceed the 12 he threw last season and are the fifth most among qualified passers, placing him between the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton (13) and the Cleveland Browns' Baker Mayfield (17). His touchdown-to-interception ratio, 1.13, ranks 29th, between the Los Angeles Chargers' Philip Rivers and Mayfield.

Goff especially struggles when defenses bring pressure this season. In such situations, his completion percentage plummets from 63% to 28%, his yards per attempt drop from 7.5 to 2.5 and his touchdown to interception ratio is 0-5.

"As we've now gone into working through our third year together, there's a lot of things that both he and I, and really a lot of our team in general, can continue to learn from," McVay said.

Throughout the roller coaster season, which included a three-game stretch in November when Goff had five passes intercepted and fumbled four times while not throwing a touchdown, coaches and teammates have praised their quarterback's ability to remain even keeled.

"That's his best strength," Waldron said. "He is unflappable."

Goff appeared as much Sunday evening after the loss at Dallas. He addressed reporters in the same manner and tone he has since the Rams selected him with the top overall pick in 2016, even as he knew the season was grinding to an unfortunate halt.

"All we can do is move forward and try to win each game one at a time," said Goff, in his usual calm and matter-of-fact way. "It's a good opportunity for us to go out and compete and show who we are."

The Rams never gained traction against the Cowboys, who entered the game without a win against a team with a record above .500. Goff had his right hand assessed for injury early but did not leave the game. "My hand is fine," he said afterward.

As for what caused the slow start, and kept the offense from finding any real momentum outside of the final few minutes, after the game was far out of hand?

"It just didn't happen," Goff said. "For whatever reason."