The Los Angeles Rams couldn’t ask for a better start to the 2021 NFL season. They’re 4-0 and seem to be getting better week after week. While it’s been a team effort, there is a legitimate connection brewing for the Rams offense. Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford are forming one of the league’s most dangerous tandems.
The work that Kupp has put in during the offseason is paying huge dividends for LA.
Cooper Kupp created his own route and it worked
Cooper Kupp had social media stirring for the past week, following his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught nine passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 34-24 victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.
The fifth-year wide receiver ran a filthy route against Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis and wound up in the end zone. The route is called the “Ocho,” and it worked like a charm against one of the better young cover guys in the NFL.
Rams head coach Sean McVay is an offensive mastermind. He does a great job getting his skilled players the ball in ideal situations. He credited Kupp with making this particular play, though.
“That’s the ‘Ocho’ route. That’s an Omaha-China-Out,” he said, per Yahoo Sports. “It takes timing. It takes a great feel. That’s a route that Cooper kind of invented himself, so you’ve got to give him the credit.”
Route-running is just one of many skills that an elite receiver possesses. Cooper Kupp is trying to stake his claim as one of the best.
Kupp and Matthew Stafford are leading the explosive Rams offense
Matthew Stafford’s arrival in LA was one of the most intriguing storylines of the offseason. Coming from a perennially bad football team like the Detroit Lions, many were excited that Stafford was finally getting an opportunity to be part of a solid team.
Stafford racked up counting stats in Detroit, as he was often playing from behind. The hope was that the one-time Pro Bowler could come in and take the offense to a level that Jared Goff wasn’t capable of taking them.
The former Georgia Bulldog has exceeded expectations through the first three weeks. He’s thrown for 942 yards and nine touchdowns, with just one interception. Stafford has completed 70.2% of his passes and boasts an impressive 129.8 quarterback rating.
The 13-year veteran has taken command of the offense and is doing a fantastic job of spreading the ball around. However, Cooper Kupp appears to be his favorite target so far. Stafford has targeted Kupp 33 times in three games, 14 more targets than his second favorite, Robert Woods.
Kupp has been getting open at a high clip, thanks to his uncanny ability to create separation. He’s already recorded 25 receptions for 367 yards and five touchdowns. He became the first player in Rams history with at least five touchdowns in the first three games since 1951.
The Rams have what it takes to win the Super Bowl
The LA Rams have notched wins over the Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears, and the Indianapolis Colts thus far in 2021. Now, they welcome Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals to the beautiful SoFi Stadium.
The Week 4 matchup will present yet another stiff test for Sean McVay’s squad. The Cardinals are also undefeated, so this one will break the tie for first place in the NFC West.
Playing in arguably the NFL’s toughest division prepares teams for the playoffs. The Rams are built for it, too. LA is currently ranked No. 8 in the league in team defense, giving up 62 points through three weeks. They held Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense to 24 points.
Murray is a mobile quarterback and provides a different challenge. However, there is plenty of playmaking talent on the Rams defense, led by Aaron Donald and corners Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams.
The offense will look to keep rolling against Arizona, behind the connection between Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp.
The Rams were last in the Super Bowl in 2018. It’s still early, but this team has the pieces to make it back in 2021.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.