The Los Angeles Rams are heading into a transition year in 2023 in which they may not be expected to win as many games as they have in the past with Sean McVay as the head coach. However, despite low expectations and the ninth-most difficult schedule, there’s still a chance that the Rams are able to turn it around.
Should a team with Matthew Stafford Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald in addition to a healthier season really be expected to win 5-6 games?
The Rams will have guys healthy last season that were out for a majority of the year. One of those players is Kupp. Kupp missed eight games last season and still nearly doubled the next closest Rams receiver in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He finished with 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns. Ben Skowronek was the next closest Rams receiver with 39 receptions for 376 yards. Van Jefferson was the next closest in touchdowns with three.
Having Kupp back will certainly be a big boost for the offense. On Tuesday’s Good Morning Football, former NFL cornerback Logan Ryan spoke highly of Kupp and said that he was the key to the Rams turnaround this season.
"The whole defensive game plan is to stop Cooper Kupp. I think he's tough after the catch, and he's one of the most willing blockers out there in football so he doesn't take a play off. He powers their running game because of how he blocks..."— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) May 9, 2023
- @RealLoganRyan pic.twitter.com/9BQoipneST
Here’s what Ryan had to say,
“That’s gonna be because the guy’s back and that’s not Matthew Stafford — that’s Cooper Kupp. In 2021 he’s number one in receptions, number one in receiving yards, number one in receiving TDs, number one in catching the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl...I think he’s tough after the catch and he’s one of the most willing blockers out there in football. Playing against him, our whole game plan was ‘how do we slow down Cooper Kupp?’ And if we don’t slow him down, it’s going to be a long day. He opens everything for McVay, he opens up Van Jefferson, he opens up the run game. Cooper Kupp is the key to the LA Rams.
Ryan isn’t wrong with anything that he says. Similar to Aaron Donald on defense, Kupp has a similar effect on the offensive side of the ball because most of the time the coverage is going to be drawn towards him. Even with the added attention, he was on pace for over 140 catches and 1500 yards. That would have ranked third in the NFL.
Kupp returning will be key, but it will also be up to guys like Van Jefferson and TuTu Atwell to step up and take advantage of their opportunities. Jefferson did this in 2021 as he recorded 802 yards during Kupp’s triple-crown season.
He started last season injured which led to a slow start. However, Jefferson finished strong with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, catching the game-winning touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders and then hauling in three catches for 61 yards in the season finale against the Seattle Seahawks.
Kupp should technically open things up in the run game as well for Cam Akers. It’s going to be crucial for Akers to pick up where he left off at the end of 2022 to help take some pressure off of the passing game.
The Rams obviously need Stafford to play well, but the offense runs through Kupp and will go as far as he takes them. As long as Kupp stays healthy, the Rams will have a chance to turn it around and compete in 2023.