Bill Belichick heaps praise on Rams QB Jared Goff


The Patriots aren't underestimating the NFL's lowest-ranked scoring offense in advance of this week's matchup with the Rams.

Even if rookie Jared Goff needed three months to displace Case Keenum as Los Angeles' starting quarterback, New England coach Bill Belichick sees evidence of the traits that made the former Cal star the draft's top pick.

"You just have to respect the talent and the skill that Goff has," Belichick said Wednesday. "You can certainly see that, particularly in this game against New Orleans. He's a very, very talented player with a great arm and the ability to make a lot of throws."

Belichick isn't alone in his high regard for Goff. Whereas the Rams offense was limited by Keenum's subpar arm strength in the first half of the season, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia suggests defenses will have more respect for Goff's ability to stretch the field.

"Big guy, tall quarterback, he's long. He has an extremely strong arm and a very accurate arm in a lot of the different throws that they ask him to make," Patricia explained. "He's a very good quarterback from the standpoint of arm strength, the ability to get the ball downfield."

That talent was on display in New Orleans last week, as Goff became the first Rams quarterback since Sam Bradford in 2010 to throw three touchdown passes in the first half of a game. Bouncing back from an overthrow to Kenny Britt on the previous play, Goff's most impressive moment was a backpedaling, 24-yard sideline strike to tight end Lance Kendricks. Three plays later, the two connected on a 15-yard touchdown, capping off a textbook two-minute drill for the rookie signal-caller.

You'll notice, however, that the praise out of New England didn't extend to Goff's decision making and mastery of the offense.

His second-half possessions at New Orleans consisted of three punts, an interception and a failed fourth-down conversion. He was responsible for more turnovers last week (two) than Tom Brady has authored all season. Through two games, Goff's offense is averaging just 237 yards compared to Keenum's 308-yard average in nine starts.

Dak Prescott's extraordinary performance notwithstanding, growing pains are the norm for first-year quarterbacks.

Expect those struggles to continue at New England, where opposing rookie quarterbacks are 0-7 with a 52.0 completion rate, a 4:14 TD-to-INT ratio and a 51.7 passer rating since 2000, per NFL Research.

The measure of Goff's progress isn't whether he leads an improbable upset over the Patriots. It's whether the next five weeks instill legitimate hope that the organization's last two first-round investments can develop into keystones around which the next great Rams offense can be constructed.