In year one of the Matthew Stafford experiment, the Los Angeles Rams are going to the playoffs. However, it wasn’t without a little bit of drama toward the end of the regular season. The Rams lost their Week 18 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, which saw them drop down to the No. 4 seed.
Being a top-four seed in the NFC is still a significant accomplishment for the Rams. However, the expectation in LA has always been Super Bowl or bust since the moment the team acquired Stafford during the offseason. Limping into the postseason after an inter-division loss isn’t the greatest of feelings.
After the loss, Stafford shared some intriguing comments regarding the Rams’ current (lack of) home-field advantage.
Matthew Stafford said communicating at home is hard
When speaking about the loss during his postgame press conference, Stafford dropped an interesting nugget regarding his team’s home stadium and how it isn’t exactly a friendly environment for him and his Rams teammates.
“I thought our guys did a good job communicating,” Stafford said. “It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really, the whole second half. Our guys did a nice job, and we got that lead back. Just didn’t finish it the way we can on offense and could’ve – had we gotten a first down there, the game probably would’ve been over.”
“It was a tough environment for us to communicate in” is the part of this quote that really sticks out. Stafford was alluding to the fact that it was so noisy during the Rams’ offensive possessions that he was having trouble calling audibles and protections at the line of scrimmage. This typically happens to quarterbacks playing on the road, as opposing fans look to distract with noise and yelling.
When asked directly about the large presence of 49ers fans at the game, Stafford said, “they did a nice job showing, that’s for sure.”
Should the Rams be worried about their lack of home-field advantage in the playoffs?
Stafford and the Rams are hosting the Arizona Cardinals during Wild Card Weekend, and it’s worth wondering if LA’s lack of a proper home-field crowd will damage their chances of advancing to the Divisional Round.
Arizona is within driving distance of Los Angeles, meaning plenty of Cardinals fans will be making the trip to SoFi Stadium for the playoff game. Cardinals fans full-on taking over the stadium and making it a quasi-home-game for Kyler Murray and company is a genuine possibility.
If this occurs, Stafford and the Rams will have to do a far better job of dealing with the noise. It clearly got in their heads against the 49ers in Week 18. That can’t happen during the playoffs.
All eyes are on Matthew Stafford during his Rams postseason debut
Stafford only made the playoffs three times during his Detroit Lions career, and he’s 0-3 during those appearances.
For obvious reasons, all eyes will be on Stafford and how he deals with the pressure of playing in the postseason, alongside the pressure of playing in a potentially hostile environment.