Scouting ain’t easy and evaluators have to constantly revise as more is seen, and known, about a player. Mark Schofield has been watching Jared Goff for years and still isn’t ready to issue a final grade.
Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of “Fight Night” on my Playstation. I enjoy boxing and Teddy Atlas ‒ the boxing trainer and ESPN analyst ‒ is incredible in the game with his in-fight commentary. During one sequence, when a boxer gets stunned with a punch, announcer Joe Tessitore asks Atlas what the fighter should do. The former trainer responds in his wonderful Staten Island accent: “Well, the first instinct a boxer has is to get on his bicycle. Get away from danger. Well, you can’t do that. Bicycle’s broken. It’s got a flat tire.”
The first time I heard that in the game I stood up and muttered to my cat ‒ the only other creature awake in the house at the time ‒ “that’s Jared freakin’ Goff.”
Having written and chatted about some of the positive traits about Goff this season ‒ specifically his pocket presence and ability to learn from mistakes on aggressive throws ‒ my scouting report has continued to evolve and be re-written.
Goff’s obvious positive traits and flaws have created two camps of evaluators with seemingly no middle ground: Some have him at or near the top of their overall boards, while others leave him off. With more film study to be done, I have yet to come to close the book on the California quarterback, but there are traits that I really like on his tape.
Full disclosure: I want to come away with him near the top of my board because he started this season at the top of mine. Of course it would be nice to have that play out, but grades, and lists, are made to be revised. Per the Scouting Rules, the work continues until there’s no more data to collect and factor into the final grade and report.
One of the more impressive traits Goff possesses is his pocket presence:
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Slide, glide and fire. Those words are all over my notes from that game. But his footwork is a double-edged sword:
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Those feet never stop moving. And for no apparent reason.
Goff knows the blitz is coming and the protection has this blocked on the edge, but he implements an extra half-roll, resulting on a poor throw while on the move and an incomplete pass.
“Bicycle’s broken. It’s got a flat tire.”
.@ITP_davemc Big Ben and Cam use their frames well. Brady fights incredibly well in pocket (I point to fight vs flight for QBs in pocket)
— Dan Hatman (@Dan_Hatman) December 11, 2015
I see a quarterback willing to fight in the pocket on this play.
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But watching this play I wonder if this is a quarterback stuck in flight mode, looking to escape:
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Looking to hop on that bicycle. Sometimes, the bicycle needs to be broken, to have a flat tire.
Watching Goff’s feet sometimes flashes me back to a moment my junior year in college, on the practice field running the scramble drill. After woefully under-throwing a vertical route, our wide receivers coach pulled me aside for a quick chat. Coach Kosty was a character, who could be seen before practice working on his chipping game, or chewing on cigars during meetings. At that moment he pulled me aside and said: “Once you get your feet moving, they never stop. That’s your fatal flaw.”
My bicycle never got a flat tire.
There is still a lot of work to be done on these players before the 2016 NFL Draft I have yet to come down firmly on the California product: Will this issue overshadow the other positive traits, or will it outweigh them? Or will my own history, and my own prejudices creep into the final determination?* I’m not sure yet, but decision day is looming.
And not just for me.
*Editor’s Note: Unlikely. #teamwork