What a franchise quarterback loves to hear is his organization hammer home his importance to the team and, particularly in rough times, how he's their starter going forward. That's something former second-overall pick Carson Wentz didn't get from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020 (or yet in 2021), and the only person drafted ahead of him in 2016 is now dealing with a similar issue. Jared Goff isn't being served a plate of his liking after the Los Angeles Rams saw their season end at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round, but rather a blank reality check from head coach Sean McVay that's sure to make him uneasy going into the offseason.
While it does need to be said Goff played admirably through a fractured thumb, helping his defense lead the team past the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round and competing with the Packers to a level many suspected wasn't possible -- completing 21 of 27 passes along with a touchdown and no interceptions at Lambeau Field -- McVay isn't ready to declare him QB1 for 2021. Instead, the Rams will take a step back and look at the entire table, and no one is safe from the coming evaluation.
Not even their $134 million man.
"What I'm evaluating is everything we do," McVay told media, via the team's website. "That includes the quarterback position, but that includes everything. I think it's important -- like I was kind of saying -- to be able to take a step back, catch our breath, be able to look at everything the season encompassed and be able to create the most competitive situations at all spots and what we can continue to do to take steps in the right direction. That's not exclusive to the quarterback, but it's all-encompassing to our entire roster."
McVay is doing his best to keep the speculation at zero, but nothing short of a definitive proclamation would achieve that mission (Rams GM Les Snead later echoed McVay's remarks).
When considering the level of investment made in Goff, be it with the first-overall pick and a four-year extension in 2019 that included $110 million in guaranteed money, to sidestep a commitment only one year backing up a Brinks truck to his front door is going to be viewed as just that -- a sidestep. Nonetheless, McVay continued to try and smooth the clay as he explained his thought process, despite also having an obvious interest in seeing what he has in John Wolford in the coming months.
But as far as what Goff did or didn't do to warrant a possible QB competition this offseason?
"For me to fully answer that, I think those are conversations that you have between [you and] your players first," McVay said. "To be able to have the right plan of attack, I think you've got to be able to take a step back, evaluate the entirety of it. What I will say that you certainly can't take away, that I mentioned to you guys each the last couple of weeks, [is that] for him to come back from a thumb surgery, do what he did in Seattle, do what he did yesterday, it's a real credit to him, his competitiveness, his resilience.
"I think there's a lot of positives from that."
Still, those positives aren't enough for McVay to make any promises in January.
"I'm not saying anything other than we're evaluating that right now," he said. "I think it's important that you do that at every single spot and no position is excluded from that conversation."