By: Caleb J Duncan
For awhile there it looked as if the Los Angeles Rams were the team to beat after the Kansas City Chiefs finally lost a game. With a 9-1 record the Rams are still in a dominant position not only within their division, but within the entire league. While Kansas City and New Orleans continue to play good football the Rams went from an unimpressive and faulty team, under Jeff Fisher, to a potential Superbowl contender; in just two seasons under Sean McVay.
Unfortunately, the Rams took a huge hit to their offense on Sunday when they lost Cooper Kupp to a torn ACL, ending his 2018 campaign. Kupp did not necessarily lead the team in receptions or yardage, thanks to missing 2.5 games earlier this season, but his presence on the field was easily noticeable. He was arguably Jared Goff’s favorite target, accumulating a respectable 566 yards on 40 receptions for a team-high 6 touchdowns while active this season. Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, the other stellar receivers, were also better when Kupp was on the field. Cooks had 7 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in Kupp’s absence while Woods had 10 receptions for 148 yards. Now, those stats are still impressive on their own, but when all three receivers were on the field defenses were rendered incapable of putting any real pressure on them as all were reliable every game.
Kupp’s injury will most likely open up more target for both Cooks and Woods, but also look to Josh Reynolds who will look to cement himself as the clear number 3 on this explosive offense. Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, the team’s two tight ends, will most likely also play a larger role taking on some of the short passes typically given to Kupp. However, Everett and Higbee have not been entirely dominant this season, combining for only 26 receptions, 296 yards, and 3 touchdowns. One, if not both, will have to step up to help fill the shoes Kupp has left.
It’s easy to look at the Rams and brush off Kupp’s injury as inconsequential because of how well rounded the entire team is, after all they do have a legitimate 4th option at wide receiver with Todd Gurley on the field. However, season-ending injuries tend to have prolonged effects on the team as a whole and the Rams are a team worth monitoring after Kupp’s injury. It will be necessary to see how this team operates when one of the most important cogs in their machine is no longer working. There is no question this team is still formidable, but with games against Kansas City and Chicago coming up, one a stellar offense and the other a scary defense, it’ll be interesting to see how McVay and his offense adjust around Kupp’s absence.
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