Can Cooper Kupp return to his 2021 form this season?

Los Angeles Rams Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp
Los Angeles Rams Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

While the easiest and perhaps most logical places to focus the attention on the LA Rams roster is who this team does not have, what about the pieces and players that they do have? For starters, can the LA Rams look for wide receiver Cooper Kupp to return to his 2021 form this season? After all, it's clear that Kupp is the most productive and therefore offensive weapon currently on the LA Rams roster.

But the Rams were far too dependent on Kupp in 2022. It was that fact that created a heavy workload, and ultimately limiting Kupp to just nine games for the year.

So the question is, can the Rams offense unleash the beast that is Coope Kupp in 2023? Well, I'm not convinced that we have enough information to state a decisive answer. A healthy Cooper Kupp will obliterate 1000 yards in a season. In fact, he could easily flirt with a 1500 yards season if the Rams target him at the same pace as they have done in the past two seasons.

How can I say that with such confidence? Over the 20221 and 2022 seasons, Cooper Kupp has competed in 26 games and produced 2,759 yards and 22 touchdowns. That averages more than 100 yards per game, and nearly a touchdown per game. That puts Kupp on pace for over 1600 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2023 if he plays all 17 games. But do the Rams want to do that?

Slow and steady wins the race

We know from the 2022 NFL season that the Rams were looking to pass to WR Cooper Kupp on nearly every drop back by starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. That was quickly detected by defensive coordinators, who started to slide high-low coverages to Kupp. But the Rams never altered their priorities, with Kupp getting 98 targets in nine games, a mark that would only be surpassed by tight end Tyler Higbee's 108 targets, a mark he needed all 17 games to set.

While it make sense for the Rams offense to place the football into the hands of the most dangerous receiver, that predictable commitment to Kupp, and only Kupp, became a clear advantage to the Rams opponents.

Perhaps the Rams will consider running a bit more often this season. And when the Rams do pass, prioritize other receivers for a quarter, a half, or even an entire football game. Yes, trust to run routes effectively and catch the football has to be earned. But no receiver can confirm that trust when the football flies to Cooper Kupp so often.

Perhaps the Rams offense becomes more effective, and Kupp is more durable, if the Rams spread the workload a bit. Honestly, the Rams had to compete in eight games during the 2022 NFL season without Cooper Kupp even in a uniform. Had the Rams lightened the workload a bit, they may have kept him healthy for all 17 games.

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Curiously, despite playing in just half the 2022 NFL season, Cooper Kupp was tied for the 40th most targets. While that shows just how valuable Kupp is to the LA Rams offense, it also shows that the Rams have some work to do in terms of infusing some mystery to their play-calling.