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Could Chargers, Rams make Super Bowl LIX an all-Los Angeles affair? Is Jared Goff worth $212 million?

Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks knows the ins and outs of this league, providing keen insight in his notebook. Today's installment covers:

But first, a look at how one city could become the center of the football world in the 2024 season ...

Hollywood haters will not like this, but Los Angeles could become the NFL's most interesting city in the 2024 campaign. In fact, by season's end, Tinseltown could emerge as the new Football Mecca.

With the arrival of Jim Harbaugh and the evolution of Sean McVay, it's not all that hard to envision Super Bowl LIX featuring a battle of L.A. between the Chargers and Rams.

OK, before you completely disparage me, allow me to explain my thinking.

When it comes to the two Los Angeles squads, I'm bullish for the same reason: a perfect marriage between the head coach's offensive vision and the personnel on the roster.

Though few evaluators would tout the Chargers and Rams as the most talented squads in the NFL today, their lineups and schemes align superbly, giving them a chance to outplay their team ratings on the latest edition of Madden.

As proponents of exotic smash-mouth football, Harbaugh and McVay succeed by leaning into an ultra-physical approach that sets the tone for the entire team. While their creative play designs and unique formations dominate headlines, both are old-school thinkers with throwback philosophies that continue to work in a pass-centric league.

Harbaugh, in particular, has won at every level by utilizing a ground-and-pound attack -- despite routinely having talented quarterbacks at his disposal. Whether it was Andrew Luck at Stanford or Alex Smith/Colin Kaepernick on the San Francisco 49ers or J.J. McCarthy at Michigan, Harbaugh's QB1 operates as a cog in an offense spearheaded by a dominant front that fuels a bruising ground game.

Since taking over the Chargers in January, Harbaugh has constantly emphasized the significance of the offensive line. It is apparent that his winning blueprint starts and ends with the big boys up front.

"The offensive line, to me, is important," Harbaugh told reporters at the Annual League Meeting in March. "If I asked you the question of like, what position group depends on no other position group to be good, but every other position group depends on them to be good -- what position group is that? Offensive line."

So, yeah, it was absolutely fitting when the first pick of the Harbaugh era in Los Angeles was offensive tackle Joe Alt. The towering technician, taken at No. 5 overall, is a rare talent with refined skills as both a run and pass blocker. Also, he possesses the kind of nasty on-field temperament that O-line coaches adore. The Notre Dame product teams with 2021 first-rounder Rashawn Slater to give the Chargers a fine set of bookends with the capacity to blow defenders off the ball and snuff out dangerous edge rushers. This will allow the Bolts to commit to bludgeoning foes at the line of scrimmage. Harbaugh aims to overpower the opposition with a "three yards and a cloud of dust" philosophy that ultimately creates big-play opportunities through the air.

With Justin Herbert put in position to benefit from a "less is more" approach that prioritizes efficiency over volume, the Chargers could rely on a complementary game plan that forces opponents to excel in each of the three phases (offense, defense and special teams) in order to beat them. Though it is not a sexy approach, it is similar to how Marty Schottenheimer built the Bolts into a powerhouse with Drew Brees/Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson in the first decade of this millennium. Fast-forward to 2024, and the Chargers could lean into the familiar gap-scheme running game that helped Stanford and Michigan run roughshod over opponents with Harbaugh on the sideline.

Given offensive coordinator Greg Roman's success in punishing NFL opponents with a creative scheme that has expanded since his time with Harbaugh in San Francisco, Los Angeles' running game should be in good hands with a pair of former Baltimore Ravens (Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins) reprising their roles as co-RB1s in the Chargers' version of the offense. Though neither is regarded as a high-end No.1 runner, the collective production from a pair of hard-nosed backs should open up the field for a blue-collar group of pass catchers on the perimeter. Without a true WR1, the Chargers will count on Josh Palmer, Ladd McConkey and Quentin Johnston to make key plays on an assortment of intermediate and deep throws off run-action fakes. While the jury is still out on whether those young wideouts can adequately replace the production that walked out the door when Keenan Allen and Mike Williams were dismissed, Los Angeles is clearly going to count on a ball-control approach to produce more wins in 2024.

McVay made a similar gamble a year ago when he revamped his offensive approach to feature more gap-scheme runs, moving away from the previously preferred wide-zone/inside-zone system. The schematic shift was a better fit for the Rams' retooled offensive line, which featured more road graders than ballerinas at the line of scrimmage. With the running game featuring more pulls and kick-outs -- instead of choreographed shuffle steps -- the Rams' running backs could squirt through creases against an overaggressive and undisciplined front seven. Moreover, the transition to a gap scheme upped the group's physicality, with Steve Avila and Kevin Dotson really thriving at the point of attack. With Jonah Jackson signed to a big-money deal in free agency, the Rams now have an interior trio with the size, strength and power to bully opponents in the trenches.

Last season, Kyren Williams rumbled for 1,144 yards and 12 touchdowns on 228 carries (5.0 yards per carry), exhibiting outstanding vision, balance and body control while slithering through gaps between the tackles. The former fifth-round pick exploited undisciplined defenses with timely cutbacks, flashing home run potential when he reached the second level. A natural scat back due to his lightweight frame (5-foot-9, 194 pounds), Williams surprisingly shouldered a heavy workload in 2023 (seven games with at least 20 rush attempts), but a key addition could lead to a work-share arrangement in '24. Blake Corum (5-8, 213) adds more toughness and pop to the backfield as a downhill runner with exceptional lateral quickness. The third-round pick displays extraordinary balance and pitter-pat while weaving through traffic, and he routinely finishes his runs with the violence of a sledgehammer.

With a punishing tandem flanking Matthew Stafford in the backfield, the Rams can terrorize opponents with a controlled aerial attack that keeps defenders guessing in the back end. Wide receivers Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp are designated chain movers with interchangeable games. As precise route runners with gritty playing styles and underrated blocking skills, these two excel at doing the dirty work needed to keep the offense on schedule. Moreover, the dynamic duo provides enough balance to keep opponents from keying on a ground game that sets the team's tone and enables McVay to play keep-away from opponents.

Now, the Chargers and Rams will need their defenses to play well enough to keep them in the fight if/when the offenses sputter early in games. While the Bolts have enough established stars on defense (Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack and Derwin James) to keep it together during a mini slump from their offense, the recent retirement of Aaron Donald puts a lot of pressure on a young core of Rams defenders to tilt the field with timely playmaking. With a pair of new defensive coordinators (Jesse Minter for the Chargers, Chris Shula for the Rams) tasked with crafting schemes to mask their respective units' deficiencies, the onus falls on Harbaugh and McVay to get their offenses flowing early in contests to dictate game flow.

If the Chargers and Rams can turn games into fistfights in phone booths, the stage is set for each team to make a postseason run that culminates in a Hollywood ending, with the two Los Angeles squads facing off in Super Bowl LIX.

Why Jared Goff deserved to be PAID

Like it or not, Jared Goff is the newest member of the $50 million club.

When he inked a four-year, $212 million extension with the Detroit Lions, Goff became the second-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL on a per-year basis. His $53 million annual average puts him behind only Joe Burrow ($55 million) and ahead of the three other players making $50 million-plus per year (Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts), according to Over the Cap, rewarding him for playing like a top-tier quarterback in a QB-driven league.

The naysayers have cast Goff as a glorified game manager who needs a stellar supporting cast and an A+ play-caller to flourish. But the numbers suggest the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft is a certified baller with a game that matches his lofty draft status.

In 2021, Goff was shipped from the Rams to the Lions (along with multiple draft picks) in a trade that sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles. In his three seasons in the Motor City, Goff has passed for 12,258 yards and 78 touchdowns with just 27 interceptions. And over the past two seasons, the 29-year-old has ranked in the top four in the NFL in several categories, including passing yards (9,013, second), passing touchdowns (59, third), touchdown-to-interception ratio (3.1, second) and first-down rate (38%, fourth), per ESPN.

If you are surprised by that jaw-dropping production, you have not paid close enough attention to how the veteran has helped Detroit improve each year, with the team going from 3-13-1 to 9-8 to 12-5 last season, when the Lions also captured a division title for the first time since 1993.

As a pinpoint passer with superb touch, timing and anticipation, Goff carves up opponents with surgical precision from the pocket. He thrives in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson's system, which features an assortment of quick-rhythm concepts that play to the veteran's strengths as a "catch, rock and throw" passer with exceptional timing.

Goff's impact is undeniable. The ninth-year pro has sparked one of the NFL's most explosive offenses with his efficient play from the pocket, helping Detroit rank fourth in total yards in 2022 and third in 2023. And he's helped his teammates thrive -- this past season, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown earned first-team All-Pro honors, while rookie tight end Sam LaPorta received a second-team nod.

Goff's deal should also serve as the new standard for the burgeoning quarterback market. His pact, which includes $170 million in guarantees and a no-trade clause, will likely be viewed as the floor for franchise quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa as they attempt to set the framework for potential upcoming deals with their respective teams.

Though Goff has been a polarizing figure in the scouting community over the years, it's clear the three-time Pro Bowler has raised the bar for quarterback play -- and pay -- in Motown and beyond.

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