The excitement for Goff and Wentz was high enough for the Rams and the Eagles to exchange significant value to take them. The Tennessee Titans handed the No. 1 pick to Los Angeles for a pack of draft picks, and the Cleveland Browns did the same for Philadelphia for No. 2. (The Titans recruited promising quarterback Marcus Mariota the year before, and the Browns at that time were high on their new acquisition, Robert Griffin III.)
Wentz was the first to shine, playing each game as a rookie and appearing among the leaders in several quarterback categories. Goff did not shine; In seven games as a starter after replacing Case Keenum midway through the season, his numbers were among the worst in the league: a 55 percent complete pass percentage and seven interceptions against just five touchdowns. Worse yet, the Rams lost all seven games.
This year, however, both players are simply two of the best quarterbacks in the game.
In adjusted yards yards per attempt, Goff is third among quarterbacks who have played more than two games, with 8.5, behind Tom Brady (9.1) and Alex Smith (8.8), and surpassing his figure novice of 4.3. His interception touchdown rate is 20: 6 healthy.
Goff's recovery, and that of his team, has surprised almost everyone. Coach Sean McVay, who at the age of 31 is the youngest coach at N.F.L., has earned his share of the loan, as did former Bills receiver Robert Woods, whom the Rams acquired in March. But whatever the main cause, Goff has suddenly gone from being a clumsy novice to an effective passer. Last month, fivethirtyeight.com rated its improvement as the second largest from the first to the second season of the quarterback.
Wentz, after being one of the leaders in adjusted yards per attempt throughout the year, has dropped a bit to 8.3, continues the current beginners fifth and a significant improvement in last year's 5.7. He also ranks number 1 on touchdown passes, and his interception percentage, like Goff's, is 1.5.
Sportradar's advanced statistics show that although none of the players is especially notable on the first or second opportunity, both are quite efficient on third down, when completing a pass is vital and defenses are often looking for one. Goff is sixth in third, while Wentz is the best in the league, completing 66 percent of 110 passes, with 12 touchdowns and a quarterback of 125.7
And although quarterbacks would surely be welcome by the fan base of almost any team, there are differences.
The Sportradar data shows that Wentz is especially formidable from the shotgun formation, while Goff is more a sub-centric quarterback. Goff is the best player in the league when he throws a receiver with an oblique route: 12 for 18 with three touchdowns. Wentz's preferred routes are the curl or button, and the deep route of the post (giving eight developer touchdowns).
Las Vegas odds have the two almost equal upstarts: The Rams are favored by 2½ points, the typical home field advantage. In August, it seemed unlikely that it was a crucial game; he can now determine the home advantage in the playoffs.
The Eagles have not won a postseason game since 2008, the Rams have not done so since 2004. Their young quarterbacks have made this an outstanding year, and offer hope for many more to come.
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