Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay has a message for anyone who thinks Jared Goff’s turnaround following his disastrous rookie season is the product of the in-helmet communication system that allows the quarterback to receive information from the sideline.
It has nothing to do with the little green dot on the back of Goff’s helmet.
“To say that you’re in his ear — because I’ve seen some of the things out there — I think it’s a discredit to what Jared has done,” McVay said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s doing a lot of different things at the line, and that’s really a credit to him. … To say that I’m in his ear the whole time, that wouldn’t be the case.”
McVay was responding to recent observations about the Rams’ high tempo and pre-snap adjustments, with several writers and commentators speculating that the first-year head coach will hurry his offense to the line of scrimmage to then maximize the amount of time he has to read the defense and relay audibles to Goff.
McVay can speak into Goff’s headset up until the 15-second mark of the play clock. It’s a 25-second window that is usually reserved for calling plays. But by hurrying his offense to the line of scrimmage, McVay can also increase the amount of time he has to help Goff with pre-snap adjustments.
It’s within the rules, but former NFL quarterback Chris Simms recently went on national radio, “PFT Live,” and called it “unethical” and “cheating,” saying quarterbacks should be making those pre-snap decisions on their own.
“To my knowledge, a lot of guys operate that way,” McVay said. “… The experiences that I’ve had, that’s kind of been standard operating procedure.”
McVay added that Goff “absolutely” has the ability to change plays if he doesn’t like the look an opposing defense provides, but Goff admitted that he isn’t changing them all that often.
“Most of the time, he calls the play and he knows what he’s talking about, so I let him do it,” Goff said. “But there’s plenty of times where it gets below 15 [seconds on the play clock] and we have to ad-lib it a little bit. It doesn’t happen often, but there are times where that’ll happen. It’s been really good so far, though, the way we’ve been communicating.”
The Rams, last in the NFL in every major offensive category last year, are averaging 29.91 points per game while sporting an NFC West-leading 8-3 record with McVay running the offense. Goff, coming off a miserable rookie season, has completed 61.8 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,964 yards with 18 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
McVay said his pre-snap communication with Goff, 23, is similar to the dynamic he had with Kirk Cousins as the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator and playcaller the last two years. Cousins, and backup Colt McCoy, knew they could tune McVay out if they wanted to, but welcomed any last-minute tips before the headset shut off. Goff, McVay said, thinks similarly.
“It’s not the first time it’s been done, that’s for sure,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during a conference call Wednesday. “When you have a young quarterback in a new system, it helps tremendously. You wish you could talk to him all the way to 5 seconds.”
McVay brought up an instance when Goff improvised during Sunday’s 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints. It came on a 7-yard touchdown pass to rookie Josh Reynolds. The Saints surprised the Rams by rushing only three and dropping eight, forcing Goff to make an off-schedule play. He pointed Reynolds to the back of the end zone and completed it to him.
“That was all him,” McVay said of Goff. “That was a bad call by me.”
Goff stated that the Rams’ offense has hurried to the line of scrimmage more often over the last eight weeks or so, but said the tempo “varies every game.”
So does the frequency of McVay’s pre-snap calls.
“Sometimes he talks all the way up until 15 seconds, sometimes he talks for 5 seconds, sometimes he talks for 10 seconds — it all varies,” Goff said. “Just like every other quarterback in the league, it stops at 15 seconds and we’re on the play. He’s great on the headset, though. He does a really good job and gives me as much or as little information as I need.”