THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — 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 — cause I’ve seen some of the things out there — I think it’s a discredit to what Jared’s done,” McVay said Wednesday.
The input Goff receives from McVay has become a topic of conservation in some circles after a recent NFL Films feature that showed the quarterback calling audibles at the line of scrimmage as they came over the headset during the Rams’ 33-7 win over the Houston Texans. Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms went as far as calling it cheating during his radio show.
McVay said his use of the communication equipment, which allows one player on offense or defense to receive play calls, personnel groupings or other instructions from the coaching staff and automatically cuts off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock, is not much different than any other team around the NFL.
“Sometimes he talks all the way up until 15 seconds. Sometimes he talks for five seconds. Sometimes he talks for 10 seconds,” Goff said. “It all varies, and just like every other quarterback in the league it’s cut off at 15 seconds and you run the play. But, yeah, he’s great on the headset. He gives me as much or as little information as I need and does a great job.”
The proof that the headset is no magic cure-all, McVay said, was evident on Goff’s second touchdown in the 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. McVay called a play intended to beat man coverage, but that was immediately rendered useless when the Saints dropped eight defenders into coverage. That forced Goff to extend the play from the pocket and instruct rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds where to go before delivering a 7-yard touchdown pass.
“That was all him. That was a bad call by me,” McVay said. “He did an excellent job being able to sit in there, remain a passer, great protection, and then he’s directing traffic. And that’s what special players do.”
McVay said Goff, who has thrown for 2,964 yards and 18 touchdowns against five interceptions, has full freedom to call audibles at the line. And it is what Goff is doing in using any information passed along via the headset that reflects his immense improvement from his rookie season.
“We talk about it all the time, the quarterbacks being an extension of the coaching staff, and that’s certainly what Jared has become,” McVay said.
Goff’s progression has reached the point where he was able to thrive against the Saints despite not having top wide receiver Robert Woods available because of a shoulder injury. Reynolds and fellow rookie receiver Cooper Kupp were each on the field for 61 of the Rams’ 77 offensive snaps, and first-year tight end Gerald Everett played 31 percent of those snaps. The trio combined to catch 13 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown.
Goff, who threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns, was pleased with how all three have worked to avoid any late-season slump.
“They have been great, and I think the best thing about them is that getting late in the season you see a lot of falloff from rookies sometimes but both of them have continued to try and get better and you see it,” Goff said.
Goff has at least 300 yards passing and two touchdowns in three of his last four games and will try to maintain that momentum at the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Goff will do so with McVay on the headset as he has been all season.
“We feel like it’s the best way for us, and I think Jared’s done a great job with it this year,” McVay said.