LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly seven months after the Los Angeles Rams placed their future on the shoulders of Jared Goff, the No. 1 draft pick finally makes his NFL debut Sunday.
Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and the Miami Dolphins can’t wait to welcome him to the league.
Goff will take his first NFL snap at the Coliseum, where frustrated fans chanted the rookie quarterback’s name two weeks ago during another dismal offensive performance by their Rams (4-5).
With their playoff hopes in danger of evaporating despite last week’s win over the Jets, the Rams have made the inevitable move.
“I learned a lot about how the league works,” Goff said. “How Sundays work, how the practice week works, how you work in the classroom and everything in between, I’ve learned. I’m thankful for everything that I’ve gathered over the last however many weeks it’s been, but at the same time, I think it’s time. I think I’m ready to move forward and play.”
Goff gets no easy task for his first start: The Dolphins (5-4) are on their first four-game winning streak since 2008, capped by last weekend’s victory at San Diego.
They spent the past week in a minicamp of sorts on the California coast, taking a week away from Florida for bonding and preparation.
Miami has one of the NFL’s least effective pass defenses, ranking 28th in the league entering the weekend.
But the Dolphins also have 22 sacks already this season, including 12 during their winning streak with a pass rush led by the fearsome Suh and Wake.
“It’s just another quarterback,” Suh said of facing Goff. “Hopefully, I’m assuming they’re going to run the same offense, but you never know. We’ll be ready for all things thrown at us.”
Scouting Goff is tough for the Dolphins because his three seasons in the Bear Raid spread offense in Berkeley have little resemblance to anything he’ll do Sunday.
But Goff played for the Rams in the preseason, and offensive coordinator Rob Boras has said the Rams won’t alter their offense extensively to make the change from Case Keenum to Goff. That means Miami will face much the same schemes that have left Los Angeles 31st in total offense and last in the league in scoring.
“Our ability to at least tell our players (about Goff’s) strengths and weakness is very limited,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said.
“We have to be very sharp within the game of trying to figure out what they could possibly lean on, or go to that he does really well, and maybe try to figure out what possibly could give him problems.”
Here are more things to watch when the Dolphins play in Los Angeles for the first time since 1988:
RUNNING STOP: Goff’s debut will be a bit more difficult because the Rams still can’t run the ball nine games into the season. Todd Gurley and his offensive line are 29th in the league in rushing offense, and the running back’s 64 yards last week against the Jets were the most he has compiled in a month. What’s more, Miami has the NFL’s sixth-ranked rushing defense.
SHUFFLED LINE: The Dolphins are 0-2 this season without Branden Albert, and he’ll be absent again Sunday because of a dislocated left wrist. That means Miami must shuffle its line while facing a defense ranked sixth in the NFL.
“We have a big test ahead of us, especially with this front,” Gase said. “It’s going to be a challenge, considering we’ve played four teams that have really good fronts, and this might be the best one that we’re about to face.”
Albert was sidelined earlier by an illness and ankle injury. He’ll be replaced by first-round draft pick Laremy Tunsil, who will move from left guard to tackle, his position in college.
“When he bumps out to left tackle, that’s like riding a bike for him,” Gase said.
FULL STOP: The Rams are staying on the edge of playoff contention with another dominant season from the defense led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Los Angeles has held its past three opponents under 18 points, and two of its three wins have come without an offensive touchdown by the Rams.
HANGING ONTO THE BALL: The Dolphins’ offense hasn’t committed a turnover during the winning streak, and Tannehill has thrown 109 passes without an interception in the past four games.
Gase praised Tannehill’s decision-making, along with cohesion he has developed with the receiving group.
“We really feel like we’re in a decent groove as far as what we’re doing from week to week,” Gase said.
Tannehill threw seven interceptions in the first five games, four of them losses. Eliminating turnovers has helped the Dolphins score at least 27 points in every game during the winning streak. They reached that total only twice all of last season.
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