In 2021 through 2022, the LA Rams auditioned multiple wide receiver to find the perfect compliment to Cooper Kupp. The Rams started the season with veteran WR Robert Woods. Woods had been an ideal complement to Kupp in the past, but he was not able to keep up with Kupp's production in 2021. He fell to injury, and his role was taken over by free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ would be a productive receiver, but the Rams rented him through the end of the 2021 season, and Beckham would suffer an ACL injury that would prevent him from competing in 2022. That led to the LA Rams signing a third veteran wide receiver, free agent Allen Robinson. But Robinson was not producing to expectations and was also injured in 2022.
If you really want to be inclusive, you can even insert the failed attempt by the LA Rams to resuscitate the career of speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson. So that makes four veteran accomplished wide receivers who, for one reason or another, simply did not pan out as a long term bookend for Rams All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp
Puka Nacua could be the ideal counterweight for Cooper Kupp
One of my greatest concerns over the reliance of the LA Rams offense depending almost entirely upon getting the football to Cooper Kupp is that it (A) becomes too easy for opposing teams to predict and defend (B) It overworks Kupp, exposing him to excessive injury risk (C) Takes other offensive weapons out of the game too often (D) Exposes the Rams offense to few experienced weapons if anything happens to Kupp.
That 'what do we do now?' scenario wasted no time in happening in 2023, as a preseason injury to Cooper Kupp resulted in his being placed on the LA Rams IR list, and leaving the Rams few if any options to open the season.
Fortunately, the Rams took a rare chance on rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, a young offensive weapon who was nearly a perfect fit for what the Rams try to do on offense. He is so ideally suited to the Rams offense that he has already won the NFL Rookie of the Week honors twice in his first four games.
Nacua keeps getting better
Nacua started out in the 2023 season red hot, exceeding 100+ receiving yards in his first two games. In fact, it was not until Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals that Nacua was held to under 70 receiving yards, as he caught four of seven passes for just 26 yards.
But he would spring back to life in Week 7.
With a tie score heading into the fourth quarter, the LA Rams rookie receiver has hauled in eight of 11 passes for154 yards, including one of the most spectacular catches of the 2023 season (see below)
The Steelers are driving. As feared the Rams could not lose the battle of turnovers in this one. Yet that is exactly what the Rams did, as Matthew Stafford threw a poorly thrown interception which led to an almost immediate Steelers touchdown.
The Rams have been playing well enough to win another game. But costly mistakes (an interception) could turn the Rams solid effort into another disappointing outcome. The LA Rams have gotten the ball with just over seven minutes remaining, and the team is behind in this one.
With time running out in Q4
The Rams need one more highlight film offensive series from Puka Nacua to have any chance in this one. But hope is fading fast in this one