ATLANTA — The New England Patriots have spent the last 10 days closely analyzing film of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. By this point, it’s safe to assume they have a solid grasp of the third-year pro’s skill set and what dangers he’ll pose to their defense Sunday in Super Bowl LIII.
But while the Patriots are generally familiar with Goff, whom they’ve faced once before in 2016, only one player on their 53-man roster actually has experience playing alongside the 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick.
New England tight end Stephen Anderson and Goff were teammates at the University of California from 2013 to 2015. During Wednesday’s media availability as the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII hotel, Anderson offered a scouting report on his former QB.
“Phenomenal deep ball,” Anderson told NESN.com. “If there’s a situation where he has to hit a receiver 50 yards downfield, you know, that’s one of the first things I noticed from him when he was just coming into Cal. He was an early (enrollee). He was 18 that year or 17, and his deep ball was money. It was money every single time. So if there’s opportunity for him to hit that, then he’s going to hit that. …
“He’s rhythmic. There’s a lot of quarterbacks in the league that are rhythmic. They like on the third step, firing; on the fifth step, firing. (And) he can get out of the pocket. He can definitely get out of the pocket and make plays through there. That’s definitely not his primary thing, but if he needs to, he has (the ability) to. I’ve been seeing that for years, and he’s done it a couple times this season.
“He’s a good quarterback. He’s still learning, but he’s a good quarterback. Obviously, I wouldn’t put him on the level of Tom (Brady), but I definitely feel like he can get the job done if the right situation lines up for him.”
Goff looked out of his depth on a bad Rams team as a rookie, but he’s thrived since offensive-minded maestro Sean McVay took over as head coach in LA in 2017, posting passer ratings of 100.5 and 101.1 in the last two seasons.
The 24-year-old ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards and yards per attempt and tied for sixth in touchdown passes during the 2018 regular season while leading a Rams offense that ranked second in both scoring and yardage behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I wasn’t surprised that he struggled at first,” Anderson said. “He was 21 years old. The Rams just moved to LA. He’s the face of this whole franchise in a new city. He didn’t have — when you go No. 1 as a quarterback overall, you usually don’t have all the weapons that you need. Like, (those) teams usually don’t have a great run game, great receivers, great line. …
“I feel like Sean McVay (really helped him). We had an offensive coordinator Tony Franklin back in college, and I think that he was really good in terms of staying on Jared and really being a part of every step of his development.
“So I wasn’t surprised, but I knew he was going to get it because I’ve seen how he works. He definitely has a fire to better himself every single day and be on the same page as his receivers, running backs, line. And he’s been doing that, and he’s going to continue to get better. I’m really excited to be a part of all this and watch how he plays on the biggest stage.”
Anderson, who has yet to play in a game since being promoted from the Patriots’ practice squad before the divisional round, believes the sky is the limit for his fellow Golden Bear.
“He’s still improving as a quarterback, which is a scary thing,” Anderson said. “He’s the Super Bowl in his third season. Him and Sean McVay, their relationship is only going to continue to grow over the years, so he’s still continuing to get better. This is not by any means, I feel, his final form.”
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images