While the Los Angeles Rams lost Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots, the future looked bright for Sean McVay and Co. heading into 2019. The Rams went 13-3 in the regular season, the defense held Tom Brady and his offense to just 13 points on the biggest stage of them all and they appeared to have their quarterback of the future in Jared Goff.
Goff put up career numbers in his third season, as he completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the regular season. The Rams rewarded him with a four-year, $134 million extension that included $110 million guaranteed last offseason, but he couldn't replicate the numbers he put up in 2018. The former No. 1 overall pick threw for 4,638 yards, 22 touchdowns and a career-high 16 interceptions this season, as the Rams missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Goff wasn't the only player who struggled. Todd Gurley, who the Rams just gave big money to as well, rushed for a career-low 857 yards in 2019, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught a career-low 42 passes for 583 yards and just two touchdowns after putting up a career-high 1,204 receiving yards last season.
The offense was held to single-digits twice this year and the defense was blown out several times. Despite the disappointing season, Cooks recently told Doug Farrar of USA Today's Touchdown Wire that he knows Goff is the man who can lead the Rams back to the top of the NFC West.
"Absolutely. Yes, he is the guy," Cooks said. "I mean, you talk about a guy that -- we had so many different position changes along the offensive line last year. And for any quarterback, that is so tough. To still be able to stand in there and take the licks, it goes to show you that this guy is willing to do whatever it takes to win for his team. And at that young age, when you have that mindset, special things happen."
The Rams' offense was one of the most explosive in the league in 2018, averaging 421.1 yards per game, which ranked second in the league behind the Kansas City Chiefs. This year, they averaged 374.9 yards per game, which ranked seventh in the league.
There were multiple changes on the offensive line and injuries to deal with as well. Cooks, for example, missed two games due to a concussion and wasn't the same player for much of the year as he was during a strong 2018 campaign. He points to the inconsistencies around Goff as the reason the Rams struggled rather than Goff himself.
"It was one of those things where, how (do) we find the way to get back to our consistent play?" Cooks said. "There were too many inconsistencies last year. We'd show why we are one of the best teams in the league, and then, the next week, we'd show why we shouldn't be playing in the playoffs. We know it's there, but how consistent can we be? That's the biggest thing."
Goff just turned 25 last October and is only four seasons into his career. He had to play in the toughest division in football this year, and has a high ceiling if his supporting staff can regroup in 2020. If Gurley can return to form, Cooks can stay healthy and the defense can improve, the Rams could be right back in the mix this year.