II: Kupp is the new Rams deep threat?
Who cares? The insistence upon who to blame is simply a scarecrow deflection to the ultimate challenge, which comes down to how can the LA Rams get him back on track. So how can the Rams get Kupp back on track? Well, that's something that the Rams coaching staff has to figure out pretty quickly. The Rams have a Week 10 BYE and then must figure out ways to find success over the second half of the season.
We can identify some elements that have contributed to Kup's precipitous drop in reception rate just from a comparative review of his statistics. For starters, Kupp is averaging 15.8 yards per reception, which suggests that with the surge of rookie Puka Nacua, the Rams offense appears to have repurposed Kupp into mid-range and deep routes.
Hail Cooper Kupp?
Let's dive into that a bit deeper. Cooper Kupp is still averaging 8.1 yards per target, which is right in line with his historic norms. But this year, his yards before catch per reception has skyrocketed from 7.6 yards in 2021 and 5.2 yards in 2022 to a whopping 10.4 yards this season. Curiously, Kupp's Yards After Catch (YAC) is still in line with his historic average, as he is only slightly under his career, putting up 5.4 yards after the catch in 2023.
One more data point that stands out is the fact that the Average Depth of Target (ADOT) in 2023 is 11.0 yards, which is nearly 50 percent further than his 7.2 ADOT of 2022.
Evidence that the Rams offense, in an effort to incorporate the best receiver group this season, has traded away WR Van Jefferson, and now has repurposed Cooper Kupp into that type of role. I am uncertain whether Kupp can eventually assume that role over the course of the season, but it is not working out well for the Rams so far.