Rams Love LA: Jared Goff Might Be That Guy

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la-sp-jared-goff-rams-20160428The Rams have returned to L.A., and fans are thrilled to have them back in town. They employ a flashy running back, and folks in the city turn their attention to Los Angeles’ newest sports team. They have relocated to a star-driven city, and badly gave up everything to land Cal’s Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. So it came as no surprise, following a mediocre 7-9 record and the relocation to Southern California where fans demand winning and want to see stars, that the Rams chose a star quarterback Thursday night to alter the Los Angeles sports landscape.

Maybe one year, soon, he’s going to throw the ball as good as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. One can only hope he’s not as bad as Ryan Leaf and Joey Harrington. Goff is on his way to the Southland, either way, that is, and with the glamour of show biz, it made perfect sense to get a franchise quarterback they so desperately needed. And you have to say, he might just be good enough to be worth the risk in a dicey business, because he’s more NFL-ready than most people realize. He has genuinely shown flashes of creativity and quality, but he is coming out of a shotgun-spread offense and must make a smooth transition to the pro-style offense.

It becomes Cali native Goff’s turn to save a city that has waited for another star to arrive and emerge into the spotlight. He’s perfect for the Los Angeles market and its fan base. The newest QB on the scene, a top draftee who L.A. has become madly obsessed with before he even heard his name called, fires darts across the California sky. Even if people aren’t already convinced that he’s their guy, he was a top-graded college quarterback who is prepared to take his game to the next level. They need to start believing immediately, because he’s smart, poised under pressure, delivers deep balls and legitimately is capable of becoming the star of a franchise looking to make noise in their new home. By trying to avoid another losing season, the Rams chose generally a more polished pro product than North Carolina State quarterback Carson Wentz, who went to the Eagles with the No. 2 overall pick.

The most encouraging sign about the Rams No. 1 overall draft pick was that Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead finally found the solution to their problem at the quarterback position, two weeks after trading up from 15th to snatch the top pick from the Tennessee Titans. The pick was a no-brainer obviously, but especially because the poor offense had shown indication of being numbingly bad at football’s most important position. This is absolutely one of the more exciting and highly anticipated drafts in the history of Los Angeles football, the way it should be. No one here in L.A. wants to see the same team that packed up in a moving van, left out of a sports-crazed town in Missouri and made its stop in Southern California.

The Rams knew exactly what they were doing when they gave up their future to appease a city with fans who are paying thousands for tickets and want to see a consistent winner now. With much pressure and expectations, of course, Fisher — who was getting little sleep — Goff was the better fit for the Rams, albeit Fisher prefers his quarterback to be an extension of the running game with lightning-fast Todd Gurley. This is a good move for the Rams, for the NFL, for anybody in L.A. who has been waiting for an NFL return and who been begging to see the greatest show on turf, winners and not a team slipping under the radar with foolish draft choices and unsuccessful free-agent signings. By the looks of it all, they may finally have some luck, good luck, that is, and it seems they finally get it.

The Rams have taken such a climatic leap forward, just after handing it off to Goff, that this gives them a chance to finish the season at least 8-8, knowing that he will have to go through growing pains as a rookie quarterback. If all goes well, with his pocket mobility and quick release, he could maybe be not only the backbone of a horrendous offense but also the god of a city where fans live for the moment and boast about beloved sports figures who overachieve. He already loves L.A., the Bay Area kid who’s ready to take his first snap and air out a football from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the Hollywood sign.

hi-res-734ece34b91d1f3cec77db77ef2ef642_crop_northHe’s already looking to go get a playbook and go to work, the former California star bringing his talents to SoCal. There’s a reason the Rams made him their quarterback, a star in the making who already projected to stardom. He is a smart, film nerd and it has brought about his success. His drive, strong work ethic, instinctive diligence, arm strength and brilliant mind elevated him to elite status. All right, so maybe now he will immediately give a hapless team a marquee player, a city some hope and fans something to watch.

This one move could change everything. This one move could boost ticket sells, generate significant local economic growth and heal the wounds in the first season of the NFL’s return to Los Angeles since 1994. There is nothing more depressing — and, inevitably, more disheartening than lousy major Los Angeles pro sports franchises. The misery of losing in the worst-suffering sports town has long been trending upward, disgusted L.A. fans are furious and no one has patience to wait. The Lakers are young and have not one superstar. The Clippers are hopeless without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The Dodgers’ bullpen blows leads. And the Kings and Ducks are both eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention.

The NFL is coming back to Los Angeles. And with the excitement of a new team coming home, the Rams have stolen the spotlight. They have a great running game, but the life expectancy of an NFL running back is very short. When they open the 2016 season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 12, the defense will be the strength, led by tackle Aaron Donald, a two-time Pro Bowler who seems to fit well into Gregg Williams’ 4-3 defensive scheme.

The only thing missing was a quarterback. Goff, standing at 6 feet 4, weighing 215 pounds, said he didn’t know that the Rams went with him until Snead and Fisher called him a few minutes before Commissioner Roger Goodell announced his name. He is ready to go to work, expected to compete for the Rams’ starting job, and his new coach, the one who drafted him, wants to name him the starter for opening night.

With Case Keenum at the helm, the Rams won’t make it very far. He was the probable starting quarterback by the time off-season workouts roll around, and Nick Foles and Sean Mannion are the other quarterbacks on the roster. So now, by the time next season begins, they should have a much-improved offense, a new identity, and with that, a promising quarterback, and not a bust, quite like the time when they selected QB Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010 NFL Draft.

Six years later, the Rams have a quarterback who is traveling to Los Angeles, and he cannot wait to get down to business. This Hollywood makeover will be an interesting must-see next fall.

 

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