The LA Rams are going to throw to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Opposing teams know it. The Rams’ offense knows it. The fans sitting in SoFi Stadium know it. And the viewers watching the game on television or computer monitors worldwide know it.
So the fact that the San Francisco 49ers dedicated four defensive backs to defend WR Cooper Kupp on this play is not good defensive anticipation as much as it’s simply reacting to game-time situations that they know are coming. And the LA Rams cannot for the life of them figure out that they continue to be predictable on offense.
Sure, Kupp caught eight of 12 passes thrown his way for 79 yards and a touchdown. But the Rams had two weeks to prepare for this game. The offense threw 33 times to either WR Cooper Kupp or TE Tyler Higbee, nearly 70 percent of the passes thrown. They caught 73 percent of those passes. In the rematch, the Rams threw 19 times to either WR Cooper Kupp or TE Tyler Higbee. In game two, they caught just 63 percent of those passes.
Kupp targeted as soon as the Rams fall behind
No matter what the coverage, the ball is going to Kupp or Higbee.
But when does enough cross the line into too much? Wherever you draw that line, it was crossed late in the game. With one minute remaining, and the Rams down by 17 points with the ball on their own 15-yard line with third down and four yards to go, the Rams dialed up a pass to, you guessed it, Cooper Kupp. Kupp gained six yards. But suffered an ankle injury.
The result? Kupp was able to walk off the field on his own power, but the play truly demonstrates just how out of touch the offensive playcalling was in the second half of this one. The Rams had a solid strategy in the first half, but clearly, the 49ers know that as soon as the Rams fall behind, they pass pass pass. And they know that the Rams pass to Cooper Kupp.
The Rams had no business playing Kupp in a game that was lost. If the Rams avoid any starters in the preseason games to avoid the risk of injuries, then playing 17 points down with a minute to go defeats the purpose.
After the game, Cooper Kupp thinks that he may have dodged a bullet in terms of injury severity.
But should he have been playing, and targeted, in that game situation? Perhaps I’m not reading the signs on that play, but the game was lost. Why risk the best offensive weapon on the team?
The repercussions of that play may haunt the Rams team for the rest of the season. Even if Kupp can play in Week 9, that is not saying he will be at 100 percent. And with the BYE week behind them, when will Kupp get rest? The Rams target him more than any other receiver already.
Sadly, the Rams risked injury to their best offensive weapon in a game that was already decided by the start of the fourth quarter. That’s not the players. That’s the play calling. And this play shows that it is in need of a makeover as well.