Jared Goff threw for the eighth most yards in NFL history on Sunday. He was bad. For the third time in four 2019 starts, Goff failed to produce more touchdowns than turnovers. What was once an every-other-game meme — “Road Goff” — is threatening to become the permanent state of affairs.
The Rams’ instant classic win over the Chiefs last Week 11 was the most vivid illustration of how far Goff had come under Sean McVay. After the 54-51 dust settled, Goff owned a 55:13 TD:INT, 64.0 completion percentage and 8.42 YPA in 27 games under his new coach. Then the Rams went on bye. When they returned, it was to a 30-16 win over the Lions. Nothing harmless, right? Beneath the surface of that win, Bill Belichick disciple Matt Patricia provided a new blueprint on how to slow the former No. 1 overall pick.
Since, Goff has been slowly transforming back into another meme Goff — Fisher Goff. In his 12 starts since that memorable Monday night, Goff has seen his numbers crater to: 13:14 TD:INT ratio, 60.1 completion percentage and 6.76 yards per attempt. That includes a “playoff run” that featured one score in three games. None of that is to mention Goff’s ongoing fumbling issues.
There are many factors at play. Goff’s skid coincides with Todd Gurley’s health problems and subsequent workload reduction. The Rams have played a tough schedule. The offensive line has regressed. The Browns, Saints, Panthers and even Bucs have had 2019 success scrambling opposing quarterbacks. More glaring than anything, however, has been Goff’s struggles in the face of the rush. No quarterback likes pressure, but Goff has been paralyzed by it this season, posting a 62.1 QB rating under the gun. That’s actually better than his 2019 mark, but the difference is, he’s now being pressured 43.2 percent of the time compared to 32.0.
Where is this all headed? For Week 5, Goff has a short-week road trip to Seattle. The Seahawks have not been daunting against the pass, though they do have 10 sacks through four games. After Seattle, Goff has 10 days to rest up for a date with the 49ers’ upstart pass defense. As Sunday showed, a diminished Goff can still make other players’ fantasy days. As Weeks 1-3 showed, it will be in more uneven and unpredictable fashion. 2018 metronome Robert Woods has had just one good game, for instance. One of the NFL’s most hotly debated players since his 2016 arrival, Goff is once again tasked with stopping a negative narrative from becoming a negative reality.
Five Week 4 Storylines
Baker Mayfield finally welcomes himself to the 2019 season. Someone who prevented a negative narrative from gaining more steam on Sunday? Mayfield, who punched out of his Week 3 coffin to the tune of 342 yards. Becoming the latest quarterback to pick apart the Ravens’ increasingly-shaky secondary, Mayfield revived Jarvis Landry for 8/167 and leaned on backup tight end Ricky Seals-Jones for 3/82/1. It was players like RSJ who created so much excitement during Mayfield’s 2018. Mayfield didn’t care who you were. If you were open, he got you the ball. There’s still a long way to go. Mayfield’s TD:INT total (4:6) remains in deficit. Week 5 opponent San Francisco has been stymying the pass, allowing just 208 yards per game and 6.5 yards per attempt. They have nine sacks in three games. A good day on the road — on Monday Night Football — would have Mayfield crawling out of the red and into the black.
Leonard Fournette finally has a positive afternoon. A Week 3 punchline, Fournette responded with the best game of his career. A Broncos run defense that had been bending was broken by Fournette, surrendering 29/225 on the ground and 2/20 through the air. Even if you remove Fournette’s field-switching, 81-yard from the third quarter, he would have finished his day averaging 5.1 yards per carry after entering the contest with a 4.2 mark. Playing more snaps than any running back not named Christian McCaffrey, Fournette is averaging 22 touches, with that number increasing each week. Although unlikely, another increase will be possible for the Jags’ Week 5 gamemanageathon with the Jaguars.
DeAndre Hopkins’ slump reaches three games. Hopkins is averaging 5/49 since his 8/111 Week 1. What gives? For starters, the work. Hopkins has just 23 looks since the opener. This is someone who averaged 10 targets in 2018. Uneven Deshaun Watson performances against strong defenses have played a part. There’s also the matter of Hopkins’ increased target competition, with Kenny Stills capable of more out of the No. 3 receiver spot than Keke Coutee or “Vyncint Smith.” So what’s the outlook? Improved. For Week 5 there’s a Falcons Defense that just revived Marcus Mariota and A.J. Brown followed by the Chiefs. You need more from your first-round pick. You are about to get it.
Josh Allen struggles mightily vs. Patriots, gets concussed. If the Bills erased Tom Brady, the Patriots sent Allen back to the stone age. That unfortunately became quite literal when Jonathan Jones concussed Allen with a dubious hit. Before departing, Allen tossed three interceptions, unofficially fumbled twice and appeared to have little familiarity with the fundamentals of playing quarterback. It was always going to be tough against the Patriots’ elite defense. It didn’t need to be “constant needless backpedaling and back-foot interception throwing” difficult. It’s debatable if Allen had even take a step forward in Weeks 1-3, but he certainly took two back against New England. If Allen can get cleared for Week 5, it will be for another gut check opponent in the Titans’ feisty pass D.
Mitchell Trubisky injures non-throwing shoulder vs. Vikings. Trubisky made it only six plays before departing the Bears’ eventual win. “Eventual win” is the sticking point, as backup Chase Daniel was certainly no less effective than his 25-year-old teammate would have been in what, unsurprisingly, ended up as a defensive contest of wills. No stranger to taking big hits, Trubisky was felled by an awkward one, with his arm bizarrely twisting as he tried to avoid a strip sack. Even if it’s to the non-throwing arm, “shoulder” and “quarterback” almost always means a multi-week absence is on the way. Coming off an efficient 7/77 effort with Daniel at the controls, Allen Robinson will remain an upside WR2 for Week 5’s neutral site showdown with the Raiders.