• Tim Godfrey

Let's talk about McVay & Goff (Last time I swear!)

My brother said something the other day about drama.


“It’s never a good idea to get involved in other people’s drama. It’s unhealthy. It’s stressful. It doesn’t do anyone any good. I avoid learning other people’s drama entirely because it’s none of my business and I don’t need that nonsense in my life.”


And this was my response.


“Well, I’m a gossiping bitch so I’m all about drama.”


And drama is exactly what we got on March 24 when ESPN’s Lindsey Thirty released her story on how the relationship between head coach Sean McVay and his once-beloved star quarterback Jared Goff. Over the course of a few years, their relationship and their professional co-existence deteriorated and was unsalvageable.


It was a great story filled with details about the disappointing end to a once shining partnership and I read it like the Bill Hader popcorn meme. I live for the behind-the-scenes happenings of the NFL. It’s why I watch the video from Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons of then-special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong lose his mind on his players.


That clip should be harvested by NFL films and locked in their vault. If there’s not enough room, throw out a few things, like anything Joe Montana did.


Now, let’s talk about Thirty’s report.


WHAT DIDN’T SURPRISE ME


McVay becoming increasingly agitated that Jared Goff was his quarterback

Regretting a long-term, serious relationship is about the most, if not the only, relatable aspect of Sean McVay. The guy is handsome, successful, and literally has a Russian model as his wife. He is everything I am not. But the annoyance with someone he once held in high regard is the one experience we can share.


After Goff got traded, I saw two things.

  1. People going out of their way to write these emotional, near obituaries on Twitter about what a great person Goff was and whatever.

  2. People defending the overall quarterback talent of Goff, the guy who led the Rams to the Super Bowl.


Let me break it down for you, my darlings, starting with the first point.


Twitter serves two purposes, 1.) Reporting news/fake news 2.) Giving horrible sports takes 3.) Relentless harassing women and athletes and 4.) Making something/anything about the tweeter.


When musicians die, countless authors jump on Twitter to tell everyone about how they were personally impacted. Like Deb from ITT Tech’s customer service center, was impacted by the passing of a musician who has 2 songs on her Spotify playlist entitled, “Dance BITCH.


And when he faced pressure — the few times he did — Goff made the calm moves and throws necessary to keep the chains moving.

It’s the same when athletes die, get traded, retire, or sign/re-sign/resign. I’ve been guilty of it, too. But you learn and move on. Unlike some of you who wrote the most annoying “thank you Jared” tweets I’ve ever seen. He was a nice guy from California who was a solid quarterback and never complained. It’s not like he cured polio.


Which brings me to the second point: The 2018 Super Bowl.


More than any other sport, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and the 2018 Super Bowl run basically happened 80 years ago if we’re going by NFL years.


No one can deny how good Goff was that season. Forget the stat line (4688 passing yds, 32 TD, 12 INT, 293 YPG), Goff just looked like a Super Bowl quarterback. Take the 2018 game between LA and New Orleans. The Rams lost that game but Goff led a second-half surge that nearly won them the game.


And when he faced pressure — the few times he did — Goff made the calm moves and throws necessary to keep the chains moving.


Then the Super Bowl happened. The Patriots' defense changed their entire approach and scheme in order to dominate the Rams and decapitate the No. 2 offense in the league. Goff was undone, the rest of the league took notice, and he was never the same since.


The 2019 season saw Goff put up nearly the exact same numbers. But two things stood out that year: His TD-INT ratio and his play. The former was 11:8 (22TD, 16INT) and the latter was a slow-start quarterback who needed good conditions to be competitive. If conditions were less than that, the game was a foregone conclusion.


More than any other sport, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and the 2018 Super Bowl run basically happened 80 years ago if we’re going by NFL years.

Goff was considered a “system quarterback,” especially in his first season under McVay. But over time, I believe he was more accurately exposed as a “conditions quarterback,” meaning the conditions had to be just right for Goff to succeed. In 2018, the Rams went all in and got everything they needed to make a Super Bowl run. Even during that season, when things went south, Goff couldn’t help the offense turn things around.


Watch the Chicago Bears game in Week 14 if you’re looking for a prime example.


WHAT DID SURPRISE ME


McVay’s lack of self-awareness and his coaching mistakes so far into his head coaching career.


Let’s tackle the first part of that surprise — the self-awareness issue.


As Thirty reported, the first two seasons of McVay and Goff’s relationship had a buffer: the quarterbacks' coach, whoever it was at that time. McVay loses so many coaches each season that keeping track of names is practically useless. But after the Super Bowl, the buffer was done away with and McVay — a very intense guy — became more hands-on and his coaching was aimed more directly at Goff — a not very intense guy.


McVay deserves empathy in this situation because this is his first opportunity to be a head coach. He’s young. He’s ambitious. Every year presents unique challenges that could arguably make the previous year look like a cakewalk.

Two previous years’ worth of evidence supported the fact that Goff responded well to criticism that was chopped up into bite-size pieces. That’s not a bad thing. Everyone responds differently to criticism. McVay, instead, did away with the “here comes the airplane” approach and tried to shove the food for thought directly into Jared Goff’s head.


The results were not great. Like Goff’s play, things between Goff and McVay were great when pressure wasn’t applied. But when adversity struck (preparing a team for another Super Bowl run post-2018), the relationship crumbled slowly. The relationship got more heated and it became unrepairable.


This brings me to the second point — head coaching mistakes this far into the game. McVay deserves empathy in this situation because this is his first opportunity to be a head coach. He’s young. He’s ambitious. Every year presents unique challenges that could arguably make the previous year look like a cakewalk.


They danced around the issue and made things more awkward than they needed to be. In trying to save face, they put eggs’ on the faces of their star players and embarrassed them.

McVay’s intelligence, however, made it seem like situations like this would be no issue when he was hired. Sure, they’d be a struggle. But not a collapse. Not like this.


I’m not a head coach or a coach of any kind. The closest I’ve ever gotten to the NFL was drunkenly howling, “OVER-RATE-TED” at Saints players during warmups. So, everything I’ve written must be taken with a massive grain of salt.


But the way McVay handled Goff was not the right way. Wouldn’t say it was the wrong way. Goff made a lot of poor mistakes in the final two seasons, some more costly than others. So, sure, in the heat of the moment, calling out your quarterback in a postgame presser isn’t the worst thing he could have done.


My issue comes from McVay, and in some aspects, Les Snead, repeating the same mistakes they made with Todd Gurley. They danced around the issue and made things more awkward than they needed to be. In trying to save face, they put eggs’ on the faces of their star players and embarrassed them.


I’m sure it’s mortifying as a former first-round pick to hear your coach not directly answer questions about your future, regardless of the disagreements the two of you shared behind closed doors.


And in a way, the decline of the Rams’ performance in the last couple of seasons is not so much Goff’s fault as it is McVay’s. Don’t get me wrong, Goff was a deteriorating asset and the trade was a solid move, all things considered. But the fact that McVay couldn’t turn those trying times into teachable moments for himself is disheartening.



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