The Rams haven’t been to the playoffs in years. Which means that not many members of the team have playoff experience.
How much does that worry first-year coach Sean McVay?
“I don’t think it’s a concern,” McVay told reporters on Tuesday. “I do think that we have a confident group, I think we’ve got a mature group for a young football team and then those guys in that locker room, the guys that have been in playoff atmospheres, we’ve got coaches that have been there as well, can provide that leadership in terms of what to expect.
“But, at the same token, we know the expectations, we know what’s at stake at this game. I think the consistency in terms of our approach and our preparation is important to be mindful of. Our team has done a great job of kind of handling a lot of different things throughout the course of the year, whether it be traveling more miles than anybody in the league, kind of responding from losses the right way and I think they’re excited about the opportunity to play in front of a great home crowd on Saturday night where you’re the only game playing and those are fun opportunities that they’ve earned to be in this situation and doing it against the reigning NFC champs provides an excellent opportunity. It’s still football, we’ll be very consistent with our approach and I think the guys will be excited about it, but you do have a respect for the experience factor and how that comes into play, but I think our guys are confident from what they’ve done this year and they’re looking forward to the chance to be able to play in an atmosphere like that.”
It helps to have defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose playoff experience resulted in a Super Bowl win two years ago. It also helps to have tackle Andrew Whitworth, who has been through plenty of playoff games in Cincinnati. Linebacker Connor Barwin also has experience from his time in Houston and Philadelphia. Beyond that, however, the Rams are heading into a wild-card game against a team that has plenty of recent playoff experience — including a Super Bowl that went to overtime.
The challenge for the Rams will be to meet the increased intensity of a single-elimination setting, and to find a way to fight through any adversity that may come before the lead becomes insurmountable.
You know, like 28-3.