The Rams host the first playoff game at the L.A. Coliseum in nearly 40 years on Saturday night. If the game comes down to a late field goal, they won’t have Greg Zuerlein to rely on. With Zuerlein on injured reserve, Sam Ficken will be the guy — and the Rams continue to have confidence in him.
Or at least they say they do.
“I think so,” coach Sean McVay told reporters on Wednesday. “I think last week there were kicks that he can tell you, he expects to make, but you still got to go out there and make them. I’ve said this before, and [special-teams coordinator John Fassel] and I kind of joke about it, I got a chance to work in Washington with Danny Smith who now is a great special-teams coordinator for the Steelers, and he always used to joke about, people say it’s a chip shot, but there’s a lot of things that go into making that kick that there’s not chip shots in this league. When you look at the rush, the snap, the hold, the kick. I think with what he can control and what he did, you look at the way he responded in Tennessee and then last week’s performance against San Francisco. He did very well and we have a lot of confidence in Sam going into a big game.”
It’s one thing to fret about the possibility of making a chip shot; it’s quite another to rely on an unproven kicker to deliver in a big spot from 45 or more yards.
“I think there’s always is that uncertainty, but what we’ve seen from him in practice and that’s the closest thing we can do to project right now – he’s done a great job,” McVay said regarding long field-goal attempts. “I think just as he gets more comfortable with the surrounding environment and the guys here – I think guys have done a great job welcoming him here and making him feel comfortable. Then, the last couple of games you look at where it all started in Tennessee and those elements were a little bit more difficult as well. . . . He seems like he’s a mentally tough guy that kind of us unfazed. You hear us talk about Jared [Goff], in the little bit of exposure you’ve had to Sam. He’s got a nice way about himself where he doesn’t seem like any moment’s too big for him and love the way he responded in Tennessee and last week. Until you get into those games, there’s a lot of uncertainty. It’s the same thing where you talk about our inexperience as a team, but I think we’re confident. We’re excited about the opportunity and I think Sam feels the same way.”
And now it’s just a matter of waiting to see whether that opportunity will come — and whether Ficken will make it or miss it.