THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Although Jared Goff is uncomfortable being overly nosy when he’s around the NFL’s best quarterbacks, he kept a close eye on Drew Brees while they were together at the Pro Bowl in Orlando last year.

The most prolific passer in NFL history had no problem sharing aspects of his mental approach and game-day preparation with Goff, who was eager for knowledge a few weeks after taking a loss in his first career playoff game for the Rams.

“I wasn’t going to pry too deeply,” Goff said. “But I’d ask him a few questions as far as his warm-up, and things he does throughout the week.”

While Goff admires Brees, Tom Brady and the other top quarterbacks of this era, he is more interested in the mental mechanics of their game than in their arms, achievements or trophies. Goff wants to know how they prepare, and he seeks out tips on film study, game-morning arm exercises – anything he can put into his own evolving approach to the game.

“The thing about Jared is that he’s always looking to get better,” Rams Coach Sean McVay said.

Goff’s rough rookie season has vanished into history as he heads into his first NFC championship game with the Rams (14-3) against Brees and the New Orleans Saints (14-3) on Sunday. While McVay clearly deserves much of the credit for Goff’s swift evolution from a struggling No. 1 overall pick into an above-average NFL passer, Goff’s adaptability and eagerness to learn are just as important as his arm strength.


“I think I rely on a lot of the successes I’ve had, and understand that I didn’t do that on accident,” Goff said.”

The same quarterback who went 0-7 as a rookie starter while getting sacked 26 times is now a two-time Pro Bowl selection at the helm of an elite NFL offense. The Rams have won their first back-to-back division titles since the 1970s during his two full seasons as their starter.

“You talk about a guy who stays even-keeled,” Rams receiver Brandin Cooks said. “He operates with such a quieted mind, no matter what’s going on. He seems to stay even-keeled, and when you have that from your QB, that’s special.”

Despite his impressive success over the past two seasons, Goff still has more to prove than the other three quarterbacks playing Sunday. Brees and Brady have accomplished nearly everything possible, and Patrick Mahomes just completed a spectacular season that has left him the league MVP favorite.

Brees was happy to speak with Goff at last year’s Pro Bowl even while knowing they were likely to be rivals atop the NFC for the next few seasons. Brees remembered Doug Flutie’s willingness to mentor him in San Diego.

“I want to make sure that I pay it forward, just like those guys did with me,” said Brees.

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