THOUSAND OAKS — When the Rams added a deep threat to their wide receiver core last spring, bringing in a quarterback capable of propelling the ball far and wide, it didn’t look like any of his pass catchers stood out from the crowd Will happen.
Then Cooper Kupp stood out with seven receptions for 108 yards and a 56-yard touchdown catch-and-run from Matthew Stafford in the Rams’ opening-night win over the Chicago Bears. Kupp then topped himself with nine receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns in a win against the Indianapolis Colts. And then Kupp kept going with nine receptions for 96 yards and two more touchdowns in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kupp didn’t just stand out among Rams receivers in September, he was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month on Thursday, a day after Stafford was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks.
Kupp said of the award, “It’s worthwhile, because it means you’re doing some good things as a team. A lot of people don’t get what they don’t have good players who do good things.” The receiver, perhaps more than any other position, relies on another 10 people to do his job well.”
Going into Sunday’s game at Sophie Stadium between the Rams (3-0) and the Arizona Cardinals (3-0), Kupp tied for the league lead with 25 catches and receiving yards (367) and touchdowns (five). are straight forward to do.
His fellow receivers are also having big moments. Robert Woods is catching on time, Van Jefferson lights up the Bears game with a 67-yard touchdown catch, and new deep threat Dacian Jackson lives up to that billing in the Bucs game with a 75-yard touchdown. Tight end Tyler Higby joins the party with a touchdown catch against Tampa Bay.
But Kupp has led them all. Or maybe “but” is the wrong word. Maybe it’s “therefore”—Kupp excels in part, despite the fact that Stafford has so many goals.
Of Kupp after the Books game, Stafford said, “He’ll be the first to tell you, it helps when everyone around him is playing well.” “Deessen (Jackson) was very good, (Tyler) Higby was good. Woody (Robert Woods) took a great catch at third down.
“I mean, when we do that, it’s hard to zero a man (to protect). And, you know, Cooper just grabbed his opportunities and made the most of them.
Kupp buys that explanation and expects the numbers on the team stat sheet to be the same and the season goes on.
“The box score will take care of itself,” Kupp said. “I am personally very happy with the performance of the box score for me. But it’s not like we planned it to go.
“The ball will spread around, and we’ll see people have really good games where they make big plays. We saw D-Jack play great last week. That’s how we want to work.”
If opponents want to double cover the Kupp, he says, pay attention to it.
“It’s certainly possible (they will),” Kupp said. “If that’s how the teams want to play it, and try to get one guy out of the game, it will make it easier for the other guys to play it.”
True, Cardinals coach Cliff Kingsbury said this week in a conference call with the Rams beat writers.
“It’s really tough,” Kingsbury said of the Rams’ passing game. “You hope they make a mistake somehow because it’s hard to slow them down.”
There are other reasons for Kupp’s quick start, which paces the fifth-year-old Rams to surpass his career-best 94 catches, 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019.
Most important is the chemistry he quickly established with Stafford.
Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said, “I think Cooper has a unique ability to see the game through the eyes of the quarterback and he’s working at a really high level.”
Add to that Kupp habit to steer creative paths.
O’Connell said, “There have been a few different plays where it’s probably not exactly what you wrote.” “But when it comes to life on the field, those guys can make it work and make it right and adjust on the fly with incredible football IQ.”
It’s not freelancing, Kupp said, but working within “parameters” set by coach Sean McVay.
“At the end of the day, you have a space you need and a time you need to be there,” Kupp said. “Within that, how you get there, you have some (freedom) in how you do it.
“As you play and earn trust within our offense, those parameters get a little wider.”
That may be the next challenge for a receiver who has been dashing expectations every week at the start of this season.
Cooper Kupp is the first Rams to win NFC Offensive Player of the Month since overtaking Todd Gurley in October 2018; the fourth Rams receiver to win the honor after Isaac Bruce in October 1995, Henry Allard in December 1988 and Tory Holt in October 2003; And the first player from Eastern Washington University to win it. … The Rams were “limited” in practice with injury reports running back Darrell Henderson (ribs) for the second straight day after practice on Thursday and last week’s game. Wide receiver Tutu Atwell (ill) and outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (rest) did not practice. … Outside linebacker Ogboniya Okoronkovo (shoulder) is practicing, and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris indicated he would be activated from injured reserve.