Jeff Fisher needs to turn to Jared Goff as his starter

Updated: September 16, 2016
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Yes, he’s a rookie. Yes, he still needs to develop. And, no, he didn’t look too impressive during the preseason. But after watching Case Keenum in Monday night’s contest against the San Francisco 49ers, I’m convinced that it’s time for Jared Goff to take over as the starter in Los Angeles.

It’s understandable when head coaches want to take their time to groom young quarterbacks, preparing them for what the NFL has to offer. Not all rookie QBs are immediately ready to take on the speed, athleticism and complexity of an NFL defense. But when you don’t have someone ahead of that rookie that’s a valuable option, it’s time to throw the young buck in the fire.

Goff was the top pick in this year’s draft, and is expected to be the face of the Rams’ franchise for the next decade or so. They traded two second-round picks, a third-rounder this year and a first- and third-rounder in 2017 to the Tennessee Titans in order to move up and select Goff. You don’t mortgage your future for a quarterback to be inactive on opening day of the season. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened in Week 1.

The top pick was on the sideline with a cap and fleece on, while holding a clipboard. He watched as his team failed to score any points in front of a nationally televised audience, and against a 49ers team that finished 5-11 and in the basement of the NFC West last season. Keenum completed just 17 of his 35 pass attempts for only 130 yards and two interceptions. And this came while the 49ers keyed in on elite running back Todd Gurley, who finished with only 47 yards on 17 carries.

It was an overall disappointing night for the Rams. But they can’t continue down this road. Not in LA, a city where they’ll have to earn respect from the fan base. LA, the city they just moved back to after residing in St. Louis for the last 21 years. Now, once again, the Rams are in Hollywood. But I’m confident the fans don’t want to support a team that continues to stink…year in and year out.

The Rams haven’t reached the playoffs since 2004, and haven’t had a winning record during the regular season since 2003. Yes, that’s TWELVE years since they’ve finished with more wins than losses. Not good.

Goff could give the people in Los Angeles some hope. He’s from California, went to college at the University of California and seems to be the perfect person for the job. Sure, he’ll go through the growing pains of being a young quarterback. But that comes with the territory. Head coach Jeff Fisher can’t expect Goff to come right in and be a 4,000-yard passer. There’ll be games where he’ll look like the rookie he is, but there may also be a few games where he shows his full potential — giving the organization a glimpse of what the future holds.

However, there’s only one way to find out what the 21-year-old QB can do — which is by putting him out there behind center. The Rams don’t have an abundance of weapons at wide receiver, but they do have Gurley in the backfield. That gives Goff a safety blanket when things get a bit rocky. He can feel comfortable turning around and handing the ball off to someone as explosive and productive as Gurley. In just 13 games last season, Gurley finished with 1,106 rushing yards (third in the league), 10 rushing touchdowns (tied for fifth in the league), all while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

So if Goff can be just good enough to manage the offense, the Rams can start building around the youth they have. Tavon Austin is one threat on the outside who can be a difference maker, as he led the team with 52 receptions and five touchdowns last year. And Kenny Britt is a savvy, 27-year-old veteran who is now in his eighth season. He led the team in receiving yards in 2015.

It may not lead to a playoff appearance in year one, but at least Goff will get the experience he needs to make consistent strides in the NFL. Jameis Winston was the top pick last year; he started Week 1. Marcus Mariota was the second pick last year; he started Week 1. And Carson Wentz, who the Philadelphia Eagles took with the second pick this year, started, threw for 278 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in his debut. So take the handcuffs off your rookie, Jeff Fisher. Allow him to flourish, or at least get a chance to. Allow him to make mistakes, and learn on the go. The franchise, and fan base itself, is desperate for a young quarterback to rally behind.

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