LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp wins the battle above the shoulders

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to the world of catching the football, few NFL receivers are as astute as LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp. That’s not to slight anyone else, but Kupp thinks like a quarterback, schemes like an offensive coordinator, and diagnoses offensive plays like a head coach. In short, you are getting an entire offensive brain trust when you place him onto the football field.

Now that the LA Rams have a quarterback, namely Matthew Stafford, who can connect with Kupp at virtually any point on the football field, all of that cerebral potential is showing up as offensive production. He knows how to make defensive backs bite on moves, misread routes, and even miss tackles.  You could say that he thinks like a defensive back as well.

Kupp knows the way to create separation is quickness, and that separation is the key to presenting an optimal target to the quarterback.

That’s helped Kupp become one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL, and is what creates so many matchup problems for the Cincinnati Bengals secondary in Super Bowl LVI.

Cooper Kupp is red hot, again

In 20 NFL games so far, Kupp has been held to under 90 yards in just two games all season. On both occasions, his lowest performances came at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals defense. They did so by dedicating both a cornerback and a safety over the top to shadow him all game.

Rather than frustrate or stymie Kupp, the experience has simply made him that much more dangerous. After catching five of seven passes for 61 yards and one touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, he put up seriously huge consecutive games. He caught nine of eleven for 183 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and 11 of 14 for 142 yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers.

Kupp is not the fastest wide receiver, nor the tallest. He is not even the most physical. He simply knows what the defense is trying to do, and manipulates them with his moves, double moves, and route-running to stop them from doing it. Every defense knows that they must shut down Cooper Kupp. Knowing, and doing, are two entirely different things.

The Bengals will likely put two DBs on Kupp early. But that likely means seven in the box to allow the run to work, as well as open up routes for Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson, and even TE Kendall Blanton.  As soon as they repurpose defenders away from Kupp, he will strike.

Shutting down Cooper Kupp for 60 minutes is something no defense has done all season. In this one? Look for another big game from Cooper Kupp.

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