The LA Rams have gone four games into the 2023 NFL season, powered by the dynamic duo of rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua and veteran wide receiver Tutu Atwell. Now, at a time when the Rams are about to be tested more than at any other time in Week 5, the Rams just leveled up.
Seriously, this Rams offense just exploded with receiver resources.
If you need a recap, let's break it down for you. After losing veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp to injured reserve for the first four weeks of the 2023 NFL season, and benching veteran running back Cam Akers after one forgettable week only to trade him for next to nothing, the Rams offense appeared to be a consolidated group of anonymous NFL hopefuls.
Rams 'running' up the score
But looks can be deceiving. Let's talk about the Rams offense for just a moment or two. For starters, the Rams may finally see the light in terms of committing to the run. The Rams' two victories in the first four games have shown some remarkable adaptability. For starters, while the Rams' running game is not finished and polished, the Rams are getting better at running with the football each week. In Week 1, the Rams won by running the football 40 times for just 92 yards. But the Rams rushed for three touchdowns, two of which were by RB Kyren Williams.
In a Week 4 victory, the Rams rushed a total of 36 times. This time, that delivered 164 yards on the ground. Once again, RB Kyren Williams delivered two rushing touchdowns. So how has that appeared when the Rams lost two games? in a Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams passed 55 times and rushed 22 times. But RB Kyren Williams ran just 14 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. in the Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams' strategy against the worst run defense in the NFL was to pass the football. The Rams' offense passed 33 times and only ran 14 times.
So it's clear that regardless of how effective the Rams run, they need to stay committed to running if they are to win games.
Let's give the Rams offense a pass in Week 5
So how effective has the Rams passing game been in 2023 so far? In just four games, the LA Rams have five receivers with 100+ receiving yards, and none of them are named Cooper Kupp. That is almost unheard of, since nobody expected the Kupp-less Rams offense to do much of anything this season. And yet, the Rams are moving the football and putting up points.
Before we tout just what Cooper Kupp means to this LA Rams offense, let's set the record straight. After four games, Rams rookie WR Puka Nacua is the second-ranked NFL receiver, just 42 yards behind Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson. That's pretty impressive stuff for a young man who only heard his name called out in the 2023 NFL Draft with the 179th overall pick.
But he is not the only guy catching passes. The LA Rams passing offense is the second-ranked passing offense in the NFL after four weeks. Only the Miami Dolphins have more passing yards per game so far. And while the Philadelphia Eagles have some solid receivers in veteran WR A.J. Brown and his teammate DeVonta Smith, beyond that pair, the Eagles have no other 100+ yard receiver on the roster.
Rams receivers getting a timely boost for Week 5
Not only do the LA Rams boast Puka Nacua (501 receiving yards) and Tutu Atwell (270 receiving yards), but this team also boasts TE Tyler Higbee (196 receiving yards), WR Van Jefferson (108 receiving yards) and RB Kyren Williams (101 receiving yards).
And now, the Rams are about to unleash All-Pro WR Cooper Kupp on an Eagles passing defense that is the 27th-ranked secondary in the NFL, allowing 260.8 passing yards per game. That is a pretty good set-up for a Rams offense that is itching to pile on the yards. And they could do it too, as Cooper Kupp is on track to be back.
The last time these two teams met was a Week 2 matchup in 2020 in Philadelphia, a game that the Rams won behind the three-touchdown performance of tight end Tyler Higbee. In that game, the Rams committed to run the football, passing 27 times, but rushing 39 times with a running back committee of Darrell Henderson Jr., Malcolm Brown, and Cam Akers. So how did Cooper Kupp perform in that game? He caught five of six passes for 81 yards.
The LA Rams have many offensive weapons to use against the Eagles. If he can play, it will be a tough task to talk Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to look away from Cooper Kupp. But that may be exactly what happens in Week 5. The Rams have a hot hand with WR Puka Nacua. No sense moving away from a hot receiver in this one.