Rams QB Jared Goff regains his grip on starting role
First Jared Goff’s thumb was fractured and dislocated. Then his nose was out of joint.
The emotion came through in Goff’s clipped answers to questions in the week before the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and his uncharacteristically edgy comments after he came off the bench to help the Rams win, 30-20.
Rams coach Sean McVay didn’t mind the edge in the voice of the famously even-keel quarterback.
“I think that’s a good edge,” McVay said. “It shows his competitive side. I like seeing that.”
Goff was back to his familiar unflappable good humor on Thursday after McVay named him the starter for the Rams against the Green Bay Packers in Saturday’s second-round playoff game at Lambeau Field.
McVay declared John Wolford out of the Packers game because of the neck injury that knocked Wolford out of the Seattle game, his second start after Goff’s Dec. 28 surgery to stabilize his throwing thumb.
Wolford will travel with the team. But Blake Bortles will back up Goff. McVay said practice-squad quarterback Bryce Perkins might be promoted to the active roster as insurance.
Goff said his right thumb continues to get better. He wore gloves during practice and said he might wear them to help grip the ball in cold weather at Green Bay.
“There is slight soreness,” Goff said. “But overall it’s progressing really well.”
A week earlier, Goff gave vague answers to questions about his thumb, trying to hide his knowledge and maybe his hurt that McVay had chosen a then-healthy Wolford to start against Seattle.
After the win, Goff expressed satisfaction about beating the Seahawks two weeks after “we saw them smoking cigars and getting all excited about beating us and winning the division.”
But he reserved some of that edge for saying he’d been “not thrilled” with McVay choosing Wolford to start even though Goff insisted he could play.
Thursday, Goff and McVay dismissed hints of a rift.
“We are able to disagree,” Goff said. “We are two grown men who disagreed on the status of my thumb. It was not the end of the world, I think. I was able to come in and help us get the win. That is most important to me.”
McVay said he and Goff had “great conversations” about who would start.
“As far as being able to work together, figure out how we move forward from whether good things or somewhat of a setback, I thought he handled last week really well,” McVay said.
Goff is 2-2 in playoff starts after quarterbacking the Rams to the Super Bowl two years ago. He should need no extra motivation for Saturday’s game against the top-seeded Packers and fellow Cal alum Aaron Rodgers. Asked if he has something to prove to McVay and the Rams, Goff replied smoothly, “I think every day you feel that way.”
But thinking back to the Seattle game, he said, “I think it’s good to play with an edge.”
McVay said he learned something new about Goff in seeing him handle the controversy that followed his first serious football injury.
“It’s a credit to who he is as a man that he can be able to step in and do what he did,” McVay said. “And then this week has represented an opportunity for him to build on last week.”
SCOUTING EXEC IS LEAVING
Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes, who always appeared to be going places, is going to the Detroit Lions to be their general manager.
As compensation, the Rams will get draft picks at the end of the third round in 2021 and 2022, becoming the first team to benefit from an NFL rule introduced in November that rewards franchises for developing minority employees who are hired away as coaches or GMs. Holmes is African American.
The Rams reacted to Thursday’s announcement with mixed emotions.
“We are all excited for this opportunity for Brad,” Rams GM Les Snead said. “He has spent his entire career with the Rams, and he earned this position with the Lions due to his dedication to being an astute evaluator of football talent, dynamic intelligence, unwavering leadership and humility. All of those qualities will ensure he is set up to be successful in this next chapter of his career.”
Holmes, 41, started as a PR intern with the St. Louis Rams and worked his way up to his current position in 2013. He oversaw the drafts that brought the Rams Goff, Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp and John Johnson, among other stars. Current rookie starters Cam Akers and Jordan Fuller were taken in the team’s second draft in a row without a first-round pick.
In 2021, in addition to the end-of-third-round compensatory pick for losing Holmes, the Rams have regular picks in rounds 2, 3, 6 and 7, and were projected to have round 3 and 4 compensatory picks for their free-agent losses in 2020.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald practiced Thursday and was declared good to go for Saturday after missing most of the second half at Seattle with a rib injury. The Rams’ injury report listed wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) and left guard David Edwards (ankle) as questionable, and linebacker Terrell Lewis (ankle) as well as quarterback John Wolford out. … Wolford said the Rams phoned his family to tell them he was OK after the TV broadcast showed him in an ambulance, leaving the stadium in Seattle for a precautionary exam. “It’s unfortunate that picture was taken because it made it look worse than it was,” Wolford said. …
Green Bay is forecast to have a high of 35 degrees on Saturday, with gusty wind and a chance of snow and drizzle. It was 83 in Thousand Oaks when the Rams practiced Thursday. … The Houston Texans requested permission to interview Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who has already talked with the Chargers and New York Jets about head-coach jobs. … McVay said he and Packers coach Matt LaFleur, his friend and former Rams assistant, talked this week. “We didn’t talk about the game. That’s kind of understood,” McVay said. “We’ll get back to talking ball after we play one another. We did connect. Just kind of saying it’s pretty cool and crazy that we’re getting the chance to do this.”