On Thursday night, in the Rams' final preseason contest and his first NFL start, Goff completed less than 40 percent of his passes and committed a couple of key turnovers, capping a four-game slate littered with indecision and struggle. Later -- in the moments following a 27-25 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium -- Rams coach Jeff Fisher stressed that Goff "has progressed," but also admitted that he's "not ready."
Asked if he trusts Goff to step in if something were to happen to the current starting quarterback, Case Keenum, Fisher said: "I think it's going to take a little more time. That doesn't mean to say he can't be a [backup]. If we were starting right now, I would probably have Sean [Mannion] as a [backup]."
So, to recap ...
Keenum, with a 38.2 QBR since going undrafted in 2012, is the starter.
Mannion, who has thrown seven NFL passes since being taken 89th overall in 2015, is the backup.
Goff, who cost the Rams a passel of picks for the right to move up in the draft and select him, is third string.
"He is not frustrated or anything," Fisher said of Goff. "He is encouraged."
Keenum sat out the final preseason game, as starters tend to do, and Goff led an impressive opening drive in Minnesota. He went 3-of-4 for 53 yards, converting a third down with a 22-yard pass play and sealing it with a perfect, back-shoulder throw to Kenny Britt for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
But then it all unraveled.
Goff completed only 3 of his final 12 passes over the next seven drives, giving the ball up twice while deep in his own territory. Goff dropped a third-down snap from the shotgun with less than two minutes left in the first half, beginning to drop back before securing the football and giving the Vikings possession inside the 10-yard line. On his next snap, Goff tried to set up a screen pass, but had the ball tipped by Justin Trattou and subsequently intercepted by Toby Johnson.
In the end, Goff completed only 37.5 percent of his passes, more than 25 percentage points below last season's league average.
Three of his passes were dropped, but three of his third-down passes were overthrown.
He nonetheless expressed optimism.
"I've come a long way," Goff told reporters. "I feel good with where I'm at."
But Goff finished the preseason completing only 22-of-49 passes for 232 yards, with two touchdowns, two interceptions, two fumbles and four sacks.
The 21-year-old had two drives against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the first ending in an interception and the second ending in a sack. His first two drives against the Kansas City Chiefs ended with a lost fumble and a near-fumble sack, but Goff showed flashes of promise in the second half, which culminated in the game-winning touchdown drive. In Week 3, against the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos in Denver, Goff was up-and-down throughout, a handful of impressive throws sprinkled in with some errant ones. Then came Week 4, which quickly turned sour.
"He is much better now than he was before," Fisher stressed. "He is comfortable and understands things. He has progressed, so we are a lot further along than when we started."
That doesn't say much about where it all began.
In his four games, Goff faced 21 third downs in which he did not hand the ball off to a running back. He converted only four of them. Five others ended in either an interception, a sack or a fumble. Often the game seemed a little bit too fast, which was perhaps to be expected for a rookie quarterback who needed to learn how to take snaps from under center and call plays from the huddle.
Perhaps Goff will one day live up to his promise, but the preseason finale was definitive proof that he is not yet ready.
Now there's no telling when we'll see Goff in a game again.
Goff said he will take "the good things I did and all of the stuff I can learn from" in hopes of building on his first preseason as a professional.
"Obviously there’s a lot of both. I was very happy with the growth I’ve been able to make mentally, physically, everything. Just how comfortable I feel now as opposed to the beginning of training camp. Just continue to build off of that and continue to build that confidence."