THOUSAND OAKS — What strange times these must be for Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who last week benefited from the rare combination of solid pass blockers and reliable receivers.
Goff got sacked only once and suffered only one dropped pass during last Sunday’s impressive 306-yard effort in victory over Indianapolis. Goff played well also, and will have to do so again Sunday against Washington, but the importance of an improved supporting cast shouldn’t be downplayed.
“He’s had some good play around him,” offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said after Friday’s practice at Cal Lutheran, “and that always helps any quarterback in this league.”
Goff knows that better than anyone after what he endured last season. In seven starts, Goff was sacked 26 times and often his attempts to generate momentum were stunted by dropped passes. By the end of the season, Goff looked lost, uncertain of his protection and unsure about which targets to trust.
Everything looked different last Sunday. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, imported via free agency to protect Goff’s blind side, had a masterful game, and Goff completed passes to eight different targets.
Goff was so effective that the Rams totaled the fifth-most offensive yards in the league last week (373) even though running back Todd Gurley gained only 40 yards on 19 carries.
Coach Sean McVay was most pleased with what Goff didn’t do: no interceptions, no fumbles and no cringe-inducing throws into double coverage. In six of his seven starts last season, Goff had at least one interception or fumble, but he kept a clean sheet against the Colts.
“That’s an outstanding stat to have as a quarterback,” McVay said, “and then I think he did a great job of distributing the ball. When you see four of your top guys all have over 50 yards receiving, that’s a credit to him and the decision-making. … I thought he made some good decisions, threw the ball with accuracy and really, he played a pretty clean game.”
The offense was so efficient that the Rams’ highest-paid receiver, Tavon Austin, got on the field for only seven of 65 offensive snaps. Austin, who missed all of the preseason with a hamstring injury, caught one pass for 7 yards and had two rushing attempts for 11 yards.
Given the Rams’ upgrades at receiver, with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp added since the end of last season, it’s reasonable to ask whether Austin has a long-term role in this offense, but McVay said he…