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Why the Rams could still be successful on offense without Cooper Kupp

Nobody except their opponents wants Rams to play without Kupp, but Sean McVay could survive

Rams loose to 49ers 27-24 at SoFi Stadium Photo by David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

By most reports, it’s not expected that L.A. Rams receiver Cooper Kupp will miss Week 1 of the regular season, and that’s great news. The Rams have focused their offense around Kupp for a while now, dating back further than the acquisition of Matthew Stafford, and this article isn’t saying the Rams would be better without Cooper Kupp.

It’s about how LA can still find success without him.

What if he does miss time during the regular season? How can this team find or measure their success? Could they even be successful?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Keep perspective that this season could be more about building for next season

The Rams not having their former receiving triple crown winner active on game day will cost the team wins. Kupp’s had game winning potential since his rookie season. Whether it’s the “medicine” he has gotten from being seriously hurt and or his ability to work and train harder than most, he seemingly continues to get better.

Embrace the idea that this season may not all be about wins and losses, and could be more about the growth of this team going into next year. With Kupp out, other players will need to step up, and either they make themselves relevant for future plans or they do not. Puca Nacua and all of the other receivers can get more reps and that’s not a bad thing. The team can use the information gained from not having Kupp to evaluate this roster even further. Not a bad thing.

You may be worried about Stafford and Kupp needing reps together. Look at how Kupp and Stafford’s seasons have started the last couple years.

For the 2021 season Kupp and Stafford were able to practice together and for the 2022 season that was not so much the case as Stafford dealt with injuries over the offseason, and throughout the year, more on that soon. Didn’t matter on the stats sheet. These two do not need to practice together nearly as much as they need to avoid injury.

Speaking of injury.

NFL: JAN 09 49ers at Rams Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cooper Kupp is not the Rams most important player on offense, it is still Stafford (as long as he’s got protection)

That picture above hurts, and there is no joy in posting it, however it does hammer home the fact that Matthew Stafford was not healthy last season. He was still finding ways to (feed Kupp) keep the offense going though.

This year if Stafford is healthy and if the offensive line can play just a little better (literally in some cases give Stafford just that half second more time) the dude will be able to distribute. He can find the open man, he can make a tight throw and when Matthew Stafford is healthy, he should be a top 100 player in the league. Without or without the star wideout.

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

A quick google search shows me that LA’s current QB threw for 4,886 yards in the 2021-2022 season. Kupp accounted for 1,947 of those yards. That accounts for about (rounding up) 40% of the total yards.

Call me crazy (do it I dare you!) but if the Rams can get a 1,000 yards rushing (even 800 yards) to take pressure off of Stafford, and he only passes for 3,000 yards (why not 4,000 yards?) without Kupp, then this team will find themselves in some winnable football games. That’s what this season is probably going to be about. It’s going to be about being competitive not dominant.

A healthy Stafford with a competent offensive line can keep your team in games. Staying in games allows you the chance to win the game(s) that all the analysts predict you’ll lose. Looking at you 6.5 win total. A healthy Stafford (who faces the Arizona Cardinals twice) doesn’t win at least 7 games? Regardless of the total wins, leaders and core players emerging is what this team really needs.

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Having a healthy Aaron Donald may be more important to the Rams success this year than a healthy Cooper Kupp

I cannot find who said this (maybe more than one person) but I heard it on the radio, and the take has been on my mind. The take is that defensive lineman Chris Jones means more to the Kansas City Chiefs than tight end Travis Kelce. At first I thought “no way”, but then I listened to the argument.

Jones is holding out right now in the hopes of a bigger contract and he may just get it. He’s already helped KC win two Super Bowls and they surely are looking for more. They need a leader and someone who can deliver on the defensive side of the ball, we all know who KC’s leader on the offensive side of the ball is.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes is special. He will make players do special things around him. The phenom QB is so talented, that he can make special plays without Tyreek Hill, who KC traded to the Miami Dolphins before their latest Super Bowl win, and the idea is Mahomes can find a way without Travis Kelce too. I believe that.

This team still needs stars on defense or at least one star and that star is Chris Jones. Similar to how the Rams have Aaron Donald. You know which team the Rams may be modeling their defense after for this year?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

(Spoiler: the answer is Kansas City). A healthy Aaron Donald can lead this defense to do great things. 10 win season great? I don’t know, again it’s not all about wins and losses, but I think he can help make this defense get better throughout the year. That’s really what Sean McVay says he wants to see.

“Well I think continuous improvement I think be able to see that growth see how we handle a 17 game season you know because the reality in this sport is you know your gonna be able to have to navigate through a storm and being able to do that I think is going to be one of the separators and how that is reflected isn’t exclusive to wins and losses...”

If Donald, and (obviously) the coaches too, can help this young defense grow and learn, why can’t this become a unit that has some success and proves to be competitive right now? Even if Kupp misses time (he may not even miss any games!) why can’t a healthy Stafford and Sean McVay figure out how to run this offense without him? I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom yet, even if Kupp misses some time, but if you are not feeling this LA squad I do get that too.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

A lot of “ifs” I know, but the point of this article is to say even if Cooper Kupp it on the sideline during games, the season is not necessarily over, far from it. In the 2018 season, LA lost the receiver (I’ll admit he was not Super Cooper yet, but he was really good even then!) for half the season, and the team still found a way to make it to the Super Bowl. No this team may not make the playoffs this year, and they might have a losing record this year, but that is a possibility whether Kupp is healthy or not.

If the other phases of the offseason plan come together though such as: (I am saying it AGAIN!) Stafford staying healthy, the team’s offensive line improving, the defense showing sustained growth throughout the season (and let’s not forget about the Special Teams unit having to come together too!) then this team might just be alright for this year, and a team to really be excited about for next season.

Now if all (or some) of that can come together and they have a healthy Cooper Kupp too, sky’s the limit.