LOS ANGELES — Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is five years older than his coach, has more playoff experience than any of his teammates and, with his bald head and graying beard, could pass for a monk.
So, oh wise one, what do the Rams need to know about thriving in the postseason?
“I’m 0-fer,” Whitworth said with a big grin this week. “I don’t know if that really gives me value.”
Indeed, Whitworth made six trips to the playoffs with Cincinnati over the previous eight years and lost all six games. In a way, that’s fitting. These Rams, who play the Atlanta Falcons in a wild-card round game Saturday night at 5:15 at the Coliseum, don’t know much about the postseason. They’re all learning together.
One thing seems clear: these aren’t just the “happy to be here” Rams. Of the 46 players expected to be on the game roster Saturday, 42 will make their playoff debut. Stars such as Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald have never played in anything bigger than mid-tier college bowl games.
For an organization that hadn’t made the playoffs in 13 years, and is attempting to re-establish a strong fan base in Southern California, this is an opportunity. Rams coaches and players spent most of this week downplaying the significance, and saying it was just another game, but they sensed something different.
“For sure,” Donald said. “I could see it (Wednesday) at practice, for sure. Everybody was amped up. Everybody had a extra little jump to their step. I know I’m pumped up. I’m excited. I’m ready to get let off the leash and just go out there and play some ball.”
The Rams better hope previous postseason experience doesn’t matter, because they have less of it than any of the 12 teams that made the playoffs this season, and not much of a winning track record. Among the 22 starters on offense and defense, the only Rams with playoff experience are Whitworth (six games), linebacker Connor Barwin (five games) and center John Sullivan (four games).
Backup running back Lance Dunbar played in two playoff games and defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker had one. Offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas, who almost certainly won’t be active Saturday, had two.
In total, that’s 21 games of playoff experience for the Rams. Among this year’s playoff teams Jacksonville has the next fewest, with 42. The Falcons have 143 combined game. New England has 317.
The Rams have only six active players with postseason experience. The Jaguars are on the…