Jared Goff faceplants vs. Vikings, poised to be No. 3 QB

Brace yourselves for Case Keenum versus Blaine Gabbert when the Los Angeles Rams open the season on Monday Night Football.

If Jared Goff had even a slim chance of overtaking Keenum for the Week 1 quarterback job, Thursday night's performance in the preseason finale slammed the door shut.

The draft's No. 1 overall pick authored an encouraging opening touchdown drive, highlighted by a 30-yard, read-option pass to Bradley Marquez. The wheels fell off thereafter.

Goff's next five third-down opportunities resulted in three consecutive overthrows, a bail-out throw short of the first-down marker and a muffed shotgun snap inside the Rams' 10-yard line. His next throw after the lost fumble was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted.

Operating almost exclusively out of the shotgun, Goff struggled with the follow through on his mechanics, showed errant ball placement and got rattled by pressure.

After completing 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the opening drive, he was a disturbing 3 of 12 for 14 yards with two turnovers on the final seven first-half possessions.

The Rams' quarterback of the future finished his first preseason 22 of 49 (44.9 percent) for 232 yards (4.73 yards per attempt), two touchdowns, two interceptions, three fumbles and a 55.8 passer rating.

Perhaps most telling, Goff has shown little awareness -- struggling with snaps, taking too many hits and failing to process at NFL speeds.

Coach Jeff Fisher conceded after the game, via Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News, that Sean Mannion is poised to enter the season as Keenum's backup, with Goff as the No. 3 quarterback.

"I think it's going to take a little bit more time," Fisher said. "That's not to say he can't be a (No. 2 quarterback) or start, but if we were starting right now, I'd probably have Sean as the two. Because it's all about being patient with him."

August quarterback assessments are notoriously difficult. A seemingly overmatched Cam Newton posted similar numbers to Goff in his first preseason, only to break the rookie record for passing yards in his regular-season debut.

While it's premature to downgrade Goff's career outlook, Rams fans have to be disappointed that he's headed for a redshirt rookie season rather than delivering the same brand of promise that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota provided in Tampa and Nashville last year.

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