One helluva hurler
When the LA Rams traded for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, everyone know that he could throw the football. What nobody knew is how he would play in the postseason. Well, after going on a four-win no-loss run, I suspect that we have our answer.
But wasn’t it a pretty wild ride all season long? I mean, Stafford began the season by throwing to Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, and DeSean Jackson. But by the time the season ended, he was throwing to Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Higbee, and Van Jefferson. By the Super Bowl? He was throwing to Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Brycen Hopkins, and Ben Skowronek. Talk about a revolving door for targets?
All the while, Stafford tossed at a career-high completion rate. He tied his career-high touchdown mark at 41. He set a career-high touchdown passing rate of 6.8 percent. All of this was done in his first year with the LA Rams offense. The Rams learned a great deal of what works for Stafford, and slowly made those adjustments in 2021. Now? The team is much more appropriately aligned to optimize Stafford’s strengths.
And there is the small fact that Stafford has a year under his belt with the team. 2021 was an excellent season for the Rams and Stafford. But 2022 should be even better.
One incredible catcher
Perhaps one of the greatest bonuses to the 2021 NFL season is the fact that we finally have undeniable proof that LA Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is as good as advertised. Perhaps even better. But Kupp was not as attuned to his new quarterback in the first half of the 2021 NFL season (113 YPG) as he was in the latter half (116 YPG). But Kupp really showed off his chemistry with Stafford in the postseason (120 YPG, 1.5 TD per game).
Kupp has always been good, a pure professional on the football field. He studies game film, thinks like a quarterback, blocks like a tight end, and has done so for his entire NFL career. But it was all potential until he found himself on the receiving end of Matthew Stafford-thrown passes. Now, he’s suddenly an epic NFL receiver.
Kupp ended the 2021 NFL season with a 75.9 percent catch rate. That rose to 78.6 percent in the NFL Playoffs. I think that can climb to over 80 percent in 2022. If that catch rate rises to that level, then the team can throw 10 passes to other receivers and achieve the same devastatingly effective results in 2022. With the arsenal of receivers lining up for next season, I suspect that those passes will find plenty of outstretched arms eager to pull them in for another completion.