Last season was a real character-builder for Jared Goff. Yes, the former Cal quarterback was selected with the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft. But the Rams, the team that took him, were in transition. After a cross-country move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the organization slogged to a 4–12 record and fired coach Jeff Fisher with three games remaining. Goff didn’t start until Week 11 and made an uneven impression when he did, completing a little more than 50% of his passes for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions—numbers that compared unfavorably with a rookie QB cohort that included Dallas’s Dak Prescott (67.8% completion rate through 16 starts) and Philly’s Carson Wentz (62.4% through 16 starts).
So it figures that when SI.com caught up with the Rams QB1 while he was in L.A. signing trading cards for Panini, Goff would look not to the past but to a future when his early adversities and the Rams’ coaching staff purge will look minor in hindsight. He also had a few thoughts on the Super Bowl QBs, his diet and his new neighbors, the Chargers, in this Q&A, which has been condensed and edited.
Andrew Lawrence: They tell us you will be attending another Panini-sponsored event after this, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Fanfest. And there you’ll be sharing your experience transitioning into the league with other rookies. What is it that you know now that you wish you knew coming out of college?
Jared Goff: I guess to understand that it’s a big deal, but not to put so much pressure on myself, that somebody was going to take me regardless. There were times where I stayed up at night wondering.
AL: How will this off-season be different from ’16 now that both you and the Rams are more established?
JG: It’ll be big. It’ll be huge for us to have an off-season here and not have everyone moving around. We moved to about four different locations last year. It’ll be nice to be in one place, focus and have a routine.
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AL: Which Hard Knocks storyline was the last to die: William Hayes’s obsession with mermaids and dinosaurs, or you not knowing which directions the sun rises and sets?
JG: [Laughs] They’re both alive and well. I hear about the sun thing quite often. That was so overblown. Hard Knocks is good. Hard Knocks is fun. But there are a lot of things that they like to script a little bit. And making fun of the rookie is definitely one of those things.
AL: So that moment with you in the helicopter—it was ... tweaked? Was it more that you were confused about the sun’s direction relative to where you were in the air?
JG: Exactly. It was made into a bigger deal than it should’ve been. But it was funny. I’ve had some fun with it.
AL: Sean McVay is your new head coach. What do you make of him?
JG: I think we first met when he was still interviewing for the job. I thought that if he was the guy they chose, I’d be very excited to work with him. Then they wound up choosing him. I’m ready to get this thing going.
AL: You spent a lot of time waiting to get on the field last year. Was it as agonizing for you as it seemed to be for those fans who were following it?
JG: I wanted to play from Day One. But with everything that was going on, there are a million reasons why that didn’t happen right away. I was totally fine with it. I was gonna do whatever the coaches wanted, and that was it. I was ready to sit and learn for however long. I learned a lot. There were a lot of things I got out of it, a lot of positives. I think in however long—10, 15 years of my career, hopefully I play that long—I’ll be able to look back and be like, Wow, I’m thankful for that experience.
AL: What’s the thing this team has going for it now that you’re most looking forward to building on?
JG: I think it kinda goes back to what you were saying about stability. Stability’s going to be huge. I think last year there was so much instability with all the moving around, going to London and Coach Fisher getting let go and our whole coaching staff getting let go throughout the year. And now we kinda understand where the facility is—everything in between. I think that’s undervalued. Now there’s a fresh energy and a fresh culture. We needed it.
AL: Is it true that you had a digestive deficiency that prevents you from being able to process protein properly?
JG: I’ve been trying to put on weight my whole life. I didn’t figure it out until a year ago that that was the reason why I couldn’t. The protein wasn’t being digested or broken down correctly into my muscles. So I had to take some powders. I don’t know exactly the chemicals. It was legal. It allowed me to break down the protein better. I really don’t have to take it anymore.
AL: What’s something that these Super Bowl QBs do well that you’d love to steal for yourself?
JG: Matt Ryan’s deep ball. It’s probably the best in the game. [Of course, it helps that he has guys like Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to work with.] And Brady? He’s just the best. Period.
AL: So how does it feel not to be the new NFL team in town anymore? Can L.A. handle all this football?
JG: I think it’ll be fine, with us and the Chargers. When we came down here everybody knew another team was gonna come—whether it was them or the Raiders. We put a lot of money into our new stadium and team facility, so I think it’s only fair to share it. Hopefully we get the fans involved, start a little rivalry and are successful in our own right.