Jared Goff expects to have a pit in his stomach when he takes the field for his NFL playoff debut Saturday night at the Coliseum.
But that’s nothing new for the Los Angeles Rams’ second-year quarterback, who has come of age under head coach Sean McVay.
“Oh, I’ll be nervous,” Goff said. “Of course, you always get nervous. But I think it’s more excitement and more anxiety and you want to get out there than true nervousness.”
“You may have that little pit in your stomach at the beginning of the game, but it’s no different than any other game for me, honestly. I feel the same way every week and going to approach this one the same way.”
That’s the goal this week for the host Rams (11-5), who aim to keep their breakout season going against defending NFC champion Atlanta (10-6) on Saturday night in the NFC wild-card round.
Rams QB Jared Goff admits he’ll be nervous, like any other game, before taking the field in the NFL playoffs on Saturday against Atlanta. Video by Joe Curley. Joe Curley/The Star
“It’s exactly the same, aside it being a day earlier,” Goff said. “It’s the exact same. We’re going to take the exact same approach we took the first 16 games and hopefully go in there and play well.”
The offense that led the NFL in scoring at 29.9 points per game, joining the 1965 San Francisco 49ers as the only teams in NFL history to go from worst to first in the category, hopes to bring its elite production into the postseason.
“I think it comes from the top down,” Goff said. “I think way that Sean handles himself weekly and the way that he is the same every week.
“He operates the same every week in the same rhythm and routine and that trickles down throughout the whole team. I think we feel the same way and try to operate the same way and have confidence in each other like he has confidence in us. “
One year after being labeled a bust, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 draft lived up to his billing by throwing for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
In his second year, Rams quarterback Jared Goff showed
“I know his rookie year didn’t go as well for him and then you look at him this year and I think he’s handled himself and has shown improvement on a weekly basis,” offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said. “I think the sky’s the limit for Jared. I really do. I think he’ll continue to grow and really excited what the future holds for him, because I know he’ll attack it the right way.”
With a passer’s rating of 100.5, Goff joined Kurt Warner and Trent Green as the only Rams quarterbacks in history to post a passer rating of 100 or better.
“You just come away so impressed with his even-keeled demeanor, the poise that he plays with. Jared is fearless,” McVay said. “I think he looks at it as a great opportunity and we trust that he’s going to make good decisions.”
With Goff at the helm, the Rams threw the fewest interceptions in the NFL this season.
“He’s made good decisions, he’s taking care of the ball, so I think it’s a great opportunity for him to play in an atmosphere like that that he certainly has earned with his teammates,” McVay said. “But, in terms of worrying about, is the moment too big or the playoffs? That is the least of your concerns, just from having experienced what we have with Jared and kind of the way that he’s wired and that’s why we feel like he’s special.”
McVay said Goff would have an “ownership” of the game plan, meaning he’ll know the type of calls that will be coming in from McVay in certain situations.
Goff said that, including the Chargers in the preseason, the Rams have faced the Atlanta’s “4-3 Under” style defense seven times this season.
Which, considering how efficient the second-year quarterback has been this season, should put it a pit in the stomach of the Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
“When you go from Year One to Year Two, you can make a big jump,” Quinn said. “One of the things I thought that has really been strong and not surprised with Matt LaFleur there is his ability to take care of the ball, (make) really good decisions.
“I knew he had arm talent, that was pretty clear, but now you see … the decision-making, where to go, when to give it out to somebody else. Those are the things that I’ve noticed and I’ve been certainly impressed by.”