The work night was short, just eight plays total and all of one minute and 11 seconds of clock time.
But never let it be said Jared Goff doesn’t know how to put 71 seconds to near-perfect use. And in the process, maybe buy back a good chunk of the faith and confidence fans and pundits lost in him after watching his rookie season plunge down the drain faster than 45’s approval ratings.
It was always irrational writing off Goff after last year, especially considering everything he had working against him. The most obvious being he was 21-year-old rookie quarterback making the transition to a level of football that takes perverse satisfaction in turning hot shot college prospects into road kill.
It would be just as foolish, of course, to start fitting Goff for a gold jacket after he completed 3 of 4 passes for 34 yards and one should-have-been touchdown pass in his short stint against the Dallas Cowboys Saturday at the Coliseum.
Quarterbacks aren’t broken in one forgettable seven-game rookie season nor are they made in a brief - albeit productive - preseason opener to start Year 2.
But let’s just say step one in the next phase of the development of Goff revealed compelling evidence he’s on the right track.
And that the poised, confident looking quarterback who showed levity in rolling to his left and connecting with rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp for 19 yards and stood tall in the pocket on a 5-yard dart to Robert Woods at the Cowboys goal line looked remarkably more confident and effective than at any point last season.
If you take anything from the exercise in folly that is the first game of the NFL preseason, when starters retreat to the bench before the first quarter ends and soon-to-be insurance agents mop up before closing time, at least take that.
One exhibition game in the books, new Rams coach Sean McVay might be onto something in how he’s rebooting Goff in the slick new schematic offense he brought with him from Washington D.C., and the rebuilt offensive line and the retooled receiving corps the Rams have surrounded Goff with.
It’s back to the laboratory on Monday in Irvine, at which point new wide receiver Sammy Watkins will start getting downloaded into the equation .
A game against the Raiders awaits on Saturday in Oakland, with Goff expected to play much more than he did against the Cowboys.
The grind is real. The process and work on going.
But if we’re being fair, the Goff we’ve seen thus far in training camp and the one we saw Saturday at the Coliseum looks more like the guy the Rams hoped he’d be upon selecting him first overall in the 2016 draft than the one that got flung around football fields across the NFL while operating in an offense as bad as any in the league,
Goff deserves his fair share of blame for last year, but it was small in comparison to the obstacles he was dealing with. Bad coaching, bad offensive line, no viable wide receiver threats.
The same can be said for what he did Saturday. He gets the credit he deserves, but he had help too. And that’s exactly what the Rams hoped would be the case upon hiring McVay to replace Jeff Fisher and adding All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Woods, a reliable wide receiver, in free agency then drafting Kupp, Gerald Everett and trading for Watkins.
After investing so much in the pursuit of Goff, the least they could do was supply him with the necessary instruction and tools to develop him.
That it arrived a year late is no longer an issue. The help he needs is here now, ready to be accessed and utilized.
Whitworth, working to protect Goff’s back side, helped give him the necessary time to throw and Kupp ran a polished crossing pattern to get open. Woods did his thing too, although he dropped a catchable ball in the opening drive and then fumbled a touchdown away fighting to cross the coal line after a Goff delivered a short pass to him.,
Kupp, in particular, looks like a future Goff go-to target after catching two balls for 35 yards in his NFL preseason debut. He isn’t a speedster, but he gets open, hangs onto the ball, and is a better athlete than some suspect as he proved in sidestepping a would-be Cowboys tackler to pick up and extra 5 yards on one completion.
And that’s not even getting into Watkins, the deep-threat difference maker the Rams have sought for years and the kind of weapon a young quarterback like Goff can learn to like in a hurry.
It was only one night, of course. And a brief one as far as Goff is concerned.
But 71 seconds never looked so good.