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Cardinals see growth in Jared Goff between Years 1 and 2

LONDON -- The Jared Goff whom the Arizona Cardinals will face Sunday at Twickenham Stadium isn’t the same quarterback they saw in the last season’s finale.

He has not only improved, but he has a better surrounding cast that has helped him top most of his stats from seven games last year as the Rams have raced to the NFC West lead at 4-2.

“He’s got a running game and he’s not getting hit every play,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “They’re playing from ahead instead of from behind, which is huge for a young quarterback.”

In the final seven games last season, Goff threw for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions while averaging 5.3 yards per attempt and completing 54.6 percent of his passes. And he went 0-7.

Already this season, he’s already thrown for 1,484 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions while averaging 8.02 yards per throw and completing 60 percent of his passes.

When cornerback Patrick Peterson has watched Goff on film, Peterson said he sees a more confident quarterback than last season who’s also benefiting from the Rams’ new scheme.

“It gives him a lot of opportunities to take his shots because he has a very big arm,” Peterson said. “Now, they’re giving him a little bit of easier reads for him -- play-action and little pop passes, one side progression reads for him. Definitely doing what he can do best.

“With that running game that they have now, too, they’re much more balanced. He has a lot of weapons around him. His offensive line is better. Adding Sammy Watkins to the receiving corps. [Cooper] Kupp playing well so far. So, he has a lot of talent around him, and now that he’s able to get protected, he’s able to get the balls in their hands.”

Yes, Goff has been helped by the additions of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Watkins and Robert Woods at receiver, as well as the hiring of head coach Sean McVay. And, yes, those guys have helped Todd Gurley find his footing this season. And, yes, Gurley, who’s the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher, has made Goff’s life much easier.

It’s all connected.

But Goff also has helped himself by making the necessary leap between his rookie and second season.

“If they’re going to make it, they better make it the second one because they’ve got all that baptism by fire in the first one,” Arians said. “So, if they’re going to make it -- and it looks like he’s going to make it to be a good one -- he’s making it this year.”

To do that, however, Goff had to look at more than just his life on the field, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said.

Palmer’s case going from his rookie season to his second year was slightly different than Goff’s. Palmer sat behind Jon Kitna for his entire rookie season in 2003 and started in 2004.

Palmer, in his 15th season, said there’s “so much to learn about the game” as a young quarterback.

“I think more than anything, you learn how to start being a pro, because you go from being in school for most of the day and you show up at practice at 3 o’clock and you have football for a couple hours,” Palmer said. “It’s a whole new world when this is your job and this is everything. You wake up at 5:30 [a.m.] and you don’t get done doing football until 9 o’clock at night. So, I think the biggest thing for a guy going through all that is learning how to balance life and football and taking care of his body and football.

“So, more than all the X’s and O’s and learning a playbook and all that, it’s just how to be a pro, how to manage your time and how to make sure you’re prepared on Sundays.”