THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Jared Goff has always seemed slightly amused whenever he’s asked about his fitness. This son of a professional baseball player has been a star quarterback for practically his entire life, and he retains an elite athlete’s matter-of-fact confidence that he can do just about anything.
“I may have put on a couple of pounds,” Goff said with a grin last month when asked about his quarantine fitness regimen. “I don’t know if that’s muscle or a couple of cheeseburgers, I’m not sure.”
In truth, Goff was ramping up his athletic development as he heads into his fifth season in charge of the Los Angeles Rams’ offense. His offseason was all about a proper diet, lower-body strength workouts, core development and mobility drills — and it’s all continuing into training camp.
Goff appears to have found even more motivation before his massive contract extension kicks in next year. He has a personal trainer, a nutritionist and a renewed focus on personal growth that can lead to team success.
“I would like to be more mobile,” Goff said Wednesday after the Rams’ second workout. “I sure hope so. I’d better be. I’ve been working pretty hard to be that way. … Hopefully I can extend plays a little bit better than I have throughout my career, and continue to be the best player I can be.”
The Rams have noticed a difference in Goff, who has already been praised by coach Sean McVay for his leadership in practices.
“(Goff is) probably in the best shape of his life right now,” tight end Tyler Higbee said. “Seeing him just moving around, throwing the rock around, his mobility is better. I know he’s changed his diet a little bit to help improve that. I think his leadership skills have even taken another step, and being one of the sole guys in there commanding the offense, he’s just getting better every year.”
Although Goff is a No. 1 overall draft pick who already has a Super Bowl appearance and two Pro Bowl selections in his first four NFL seasons, his name rarely appears atop lists of the league’s best passers. Goff’s successes are still seen in many quarters as a product of his partnership with McVay, who took over the Rams in Goff’s second season.
It doesn’t help that Goff took a step back in certain statistical areas last year, throwing a career-high 16 interceptions with an 86.5 passer rating that was his lowest under McVay. Goff called his play last year “unacceptable,” but his tasks don’t look much easier this season with the absence of Todd Gurley, his backfield partner for his entire career, and big-play receiver Brandin Cooks.
Aside from the debatable importance of a few extra trips to In-N-Out, there are plenty of concrete reasons to be curious about how Goff will perform in Year 5.
For starters, McVay hired an offensive coordinator this year after going without one for the past two seasons. Former NFL quarterback Kevin O’Connell followed McVay’s path from Washington to Los Angeles, joining the staff with a particular focus on helping Goff to be his best.
Although he wasn’t able to meet in person with Goff for the first several months of his new job, O’Connell already has a good idea about where Goff excels and where he can improve. When asked what stands out about Goff, O’Connell cites his new pupil’s “natural accuracy,” which he describes as “truly special.”
“I like his leadership style, because I’ve seen the guys really respond to him,” O’Connell added. “His teammates know that he has their back.”
O’Connell and the offensive staff are putting Goff through new footwork drills in a supplementary attempt to improve his mobility, but that’s just part of his process.
“It changes daily, and that’s really between me and Kevin,” Goff said. “I think he’s done a great job with me at keeping that very focused on one or two things every day to work on. Every day, we’re doing a different phase of our offense.”
NOTES: Taylor Rapp missed his second straight practice with a knee injury, but McVay is optimistic that his starting safety could be able to return to workouts next week after further evaluation and rehabilitation. The Rams haven’t disclosed the precise nature of the knee injury for Rapp, who started 10 games as a rookie last season and is expected to line up alongside John Johnson this fall. … The Rams will scrimmage at SoFi Stadium on the next two Saturdays. It will be their first football action inside their massive new home in Inglewood. … The Rams’ first-team offensive guards have been Joe Noteboom and Austin Corbett so far in camp, and McVay praised both linemen. Noteboom appears to be coming back strong from a season-ending knee injury, McVay added.
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