Sean McVay did something last season, his first as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, that was a loophole and rather brilliant.
NFL coaches can communicate with the quarterback through a speaker in the quarterback’s helmet until 15 seconds are left on the play clock. Then it shuts off. But by hurrying to the line, McVay could check out the defense and then tell quarterback Jared Goff what play will work against it. It was a completely legal strategic edge.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton can’t do anything about the Rams trying to call audibles through the quarterback’s helmet early in the play clock. But he had his own idea to make it harder in Sunday’s NFC championship game.
Sean Payton wants noise as soon as the previous play ends
Saints fans are smart, and loyal. They also make a ton of noise. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is one of the loudest venues in the NFL.
Payton had specific directions for the crowd: Make noise early in the play clock, to make it hard for the Rams to communicate plays in.
bring the noise earlier 🕑
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 17, 2019
“What’s important for our fan base is understanding when that crowd noise needs to begin differently this week than normal weeks,” Payton said. “That crowd noise needs to begin prior to 15 seconds [on the play clock].”
McVay is a smart young coach. Payton is pretty smart himself.
Saints fans could make a difference
Let’s go ahead and assume Saints fans are going to listen to Payton. One of the craziest scenes in recent NFL memory was the Superdome for the Saints’ NFC championship at the end of the 2009 season. The Saints fans were loud that game against the Vikings, and they’ll be loud against the Rams. The only challenge will be keeping it up at the right times for four quarters. Let’s also assume they’ll have the energy for that.
There’s a reason teams want home-field advantage through the playoffs. If the Saints crowd can cause even one big mistake for the Rams on an audible, or consistently bring slight disruptions to a strategic wrinkle the Rams like to do on offense, the fans have then affected the game for their team. What more can a home crowd want?
And if you’re going to the game on Sunday, bring some earplugs. The noise might not let up too often.
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