THOUSAND OAKS — If Jared Goff needs to get back into a comfort zone right now, he’s going to the right place.
Glendale, Ariz., where the Rams face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, has been the site of three consecutive Rams victories since Goff entered the league. The Rams are 6-0 against the Cardinals since Goff and Coach Sean McVay teamed up. The offense in those six games has been (when’s the last time you heard this?) consistent, the Rams scoring 30-plus points every time.
Goff against Arizona has been (are you sitting down?) reliable, throwing 10 touchdown passes and only three interceptions, fumbling once.
Each of the past two Decembers, Goff and the Rams went to Arizona and got well at rough points in the season.
This week, the Rams (7-4) would like to use the game against the Cardinals (6-5) to bounce back from a 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which Goff had two interceptions and a fumble.
That won’t be easy against an improved Cardinals pass defense that features safety Budda Baker and cornerback Patrick Peterson.
But it’s something to aim for.
McVay remembered Goff’s 400-yard passing performance in a 34-7 win at Arizona in 2019 as a case of the quarterback “being a great point guard, distributing the ball, being efficient on third downs.”
“Those are the things that we’re looking for,” McVay said. “And he’s done that in spurts this year. It’s not a matter of ‘Is he capable of it?’ It’s just a matter of ‘Let’s be more consistent.’”
Goff’s strong performances in victories over Seattle and Tampa Bay were bracketed by four turnovers in a loss to Miami and three in the loss to San Francisco. McVay was unusually blunt in criticizing Goff on Sunday and Monday. The coach said he knew the fifth-year pro could take it.
Goff said of McVay on Wednesday: “If he was wrong, I’d feel differently about it. He’s absolutely right. I’m a big boy, I can handle it. We have a great relationship. I’m accountable for myself. I need to be better than that. I need to take better care of the football.”
The famously even-keeled Goff admitted the loss to the 49ers was a blow.
“For the 24 hours after it, I was not in a happy place, for sure. But you move on. We have a big game this week,” he said.
McVay said Wednesday he “probably did our guys a disservice” by canceling practice two days before the 49ers game because of a COVID-19 scare at the Rams’ facility and trouble with high winds in Thousand Oaks.
With the high winds continuing, the Rams have moved Thursday’s practice to SoFi Stadium.
“Anytime we can get out of this wind and get to an area where we can work on some throws, it absolutely helps,” Goff said.
A year ago, Goff went to Arizona after not throwing a touchdown pass in November and began a strong final month with a season-best 120.7 passer rating in that Dec. 1 game.
Sunday, he’ll go to Arizona after committing 10 turnovers in the Rams’ past four games.
“You hope it stays that way,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Goff’s turnover trend. “But a player like Goff, when he has a tough day, you usually think he’s going to come back and play well because that’s the type of competitor he is and that’s kind of his track record.
“They’ve had huge offensive days over the last three seasons against us. We know the level he can play at, and that’s the level we’re expecting to get.”
Injury news: Sean McVay said he expects linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to be activated this week after missing six games with an elbow sprain. Linebacker Terrell Lewis (knee), who missed the 49ers game, didn’t practice and remains week to week, in McVay’s words. Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day (hip) was limited in practice. … Left tackle Andrew Whitworth said rehab on his left knee is going well but “we’ll see” if he can return before the end of the season. “Most everyone in the health profession that I tell I’m already walking and doing things like that are pretty shocked,” Whitworth said. “For what I can control right now, we’ve done well, we’ve kicked some butt so far. We’ll see what happens after that.” The two-time All-Pro, who turns 39 on Dec. 12, was expected to miss six to eight weeks after he tore his MCL and PCL in Week 10 of the 17-week season. Joe Noteboom has started the past two games. …
Whitworth spoke Tuesday during a Zoom press conference announcing a total of $750,000 in donations by Rams players to 25 non-profits in greater L.A. focused on social justice in education, criminal justice, housing and other areas. The effort, under discussion since the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, was organized by Whitworth, defensive linemen Joseph-Day and Michael Brockers, and punter Johnny Hekker. “I think it meant a lot to our guys and a lot to our organization for us to make a stand of a significant proportion,” Whitworth said. “This is nothing but a beginning, in my opinion.” Joseph-Day said players “hope to make impactful change in the L.A. community and hopefully influence other teams and other pro sports to do the same.”