THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Arizona Cardinals sacked Jared Goff seven times when they first met in the finale of the 2016 season, a 44-6 victory by the Cardinals. When the Cardinals faced Goff again, from London in Week 7 this season, Goff was sacked only once in a 33-0 win by his Los Angeles Rams.
To Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, that might be the biggest difference for Goff as a second-year quarterback.
"The protection has helped him so much," Arians said during a conference call Wednesday. "Last year, he hardly had a chance to stand in there and throw it."
Goff absorbed 26 sacks in his seven starts as a rookie in 2016. Only former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was sacked more times from Weeks 10 to 17.
But the Rams significantly improved their offensive line in free agency by signing left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan, and Goff is reaping the benefits. The 23-year-old has been sacked seven fewer times in four more games. Only three quarterbacks -- Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan -- have started all 11 games and taken fewer than Goff's 19 sacks.
Experience is helping him, too.
"As time goes on, you just continue to see and feel better, see things happen more, and everything's not moving so fast," said Goff, who spent a lot of his Wednesday session answering questions about his pre-snap communication with first-year head coach Sean McVay. "You're able to react better because you're seeing it. And it's not just happening; you're expecting it. ... I'm anticipating things better because I've seen them before. I've had more experience."
Goff has completed 61.8 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,964 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. His Total QBR has gone from 18.3 as a rookie to 55.4 as a second-year player. His yards per attempt have gone from 5.3 to 8.2, on pace to become the largest year-to-year increase since 1961, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau.
Arians has been impressed with Goff's pocket presence -- now that Goff actually has enough time to show it off.
"He knows exactly where he's going with the football and he's got that great arm," said Arians, whose Cardinals will host the Rams from University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. "If you let him sit still in that pocket, he's going to kill you. I've seen him being able to sit still in the pocket and being more comfortable than he has been."