Rams QB Jared Goff 'wants to be great' and is putting in the work

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams' weight room is located on the east end of their facility and opens up to their two practice fields on the Cal Lutheran University campus. Jared Goff stood there for most of Friday morning, stationed beneath a blue overhang while watching 51 rookies -- some drafted, some undrafted, some merely taking up space -- navigate through a practice of little importance to a franchise quarterback.

Goff, coming off a catastrophic rookie season, has been exceedingly present this spring. Every weekday since the start of the team's offseason program April 10, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick has been at Rams headquarters, studying film, learning verbiage, slinging footballs and familiarizing himself with teammates, even the rookies who won't make it past this weekend.

"He wants to be great," new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said Friday, the start of the Rams' two-day rookie minicamp. "He’s doing everything that we’ve asked him to do, and then some. He’s working hard every day. I think he’s getting better every day."

Goff struggled mightily in the seven games he played last season, all of them losses. He completed 54.6 percent of his passes, averaged 5.3 yards per attempt, threw five touchdowns to seven interceptions and finished it all with a 22.2 Total QBR, the NFL's second-worst mark from Weeks 11 to 17.

NFL rules didn't allow Goff to communicate with the new staff for the first three months of the ensuing offseason, so with the blessing of LaFleur and rookie head coach Sean McVay, he worked with noted quarterback guru Tom House in Los Angeles. And over the past five weeks, he has immersed himself into the Rams, more visible and available than any other returning player.

"He’s coming in early and staying late," LaFleur said. "He’s really grasped the offense surprisingly fast, especially for a new guy. When you get a new guy in an offense, there is a transition period with that, but he’s doing a nice job of picking it up at a surprisingly quick pace."

LaFleur, 37, was the quarterbacks coach when Robert Griffin III was Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Redskins in 2012 and when Matt Ryan was the MVP with the Falcons in 2016. He traveled west and found Goff to be particularly eager. LaFleur called him "a sponge" and said it has been "a joy to work with him thus far."

Rookie slot receiver Cooper Kupp, a third-round pick out of Eastern Washington, said he's seen Goff everywhere.

"I worked out with him during this draft process, and it was very clear the tenacity he has and the desire he has to win," Kupp, who shares an agent with Goff, said Friday. "That’s going to show. It just so happens that there’s people here to see it, but that’s something that’s going to be going on when there’s no cameras here. These are off days, and he’s going to be at the facility."

Goff will be 22 for another five months. He's still one of the youngest players in the league, but he is being groomed to be the face of this franchise. And now, unlike last year, his starting job is solidified from the onset.

LaFleur sees Goff "really trying to take that step and be the leader we need him to be."

"I think that encourages those guys that are coming in," LaFleur said. "I love it that he’s around. I don’t think, if you go around the league, you’re going to find too many teams where the starting quarterback is sitting there watching these rookies in their rookie minicamp. I know he’s excited about some of the pieces we’ve added."