Murphy’s Law states “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” and that seems to be a perfect synopsis of the Los Angeles Rams‘ 2022 season.
Coming into the year, the Rams had high hopes that they’d be the first repeat Super Bowl champions in nearly 20 years. Through the first half of the season though, things haven’t played out that way as L.A. currently sits at 3-6 with their playoff hopes hanging on by a thread.
A big reason for this is that the Rams have been decimated by injuries in 2022, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams have had a new offensive line every week while some key skill position players have also missed time.
None of the team’s injuries have been more important than the one this past week though when Cooper Kupp went down with an apparent ankle issue. Kupp was trying to make a catch on the sidelines against the Arizona Cardinals and had his ankle get rolled up on.
Kupp was unable to return to the game and was eventually diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. While he avoided the worst as he did not break any bones, Kupp was still forced to undergo surgery to address the injury and was later played on injured reserve.
That means that Kupp will miss at least the Rams’ next four games and potentially longer as this injury is believed to take around six weeks to heal.
With the way the Rams’ season is trending, they could be out of the postseason race by the time Kupp is healthy and able to return, which begs the question…
Does it even make sense for Rams to bring Kupp back this season?
The good news is that this isn’t a question the Rams need to answer right now. Kupp will begin his rehab process this week and knowing him, he will attack it hoping to be able to return sooner than expected.
Whether or not the Rams should bring him back though depends on how they play the next four weeks. Those four games will not be easy as they are against the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Las Vegas Raiders.
If the Rams somehow find a way to go 3-1 in this stretch to get back to 6-7, then perhaps their playoff hopes are still alive. In that scenario, if Kupp is healthy then you play him.
Anything worse than 3-1 though and the Rams are sitting at 5-8 (or worse) and essentially out of the postseason mix. If this is where the Rams are at a month from now, and I’d say that’s the likely scenario, then it would make sense to shut Kupp down for the year to avoid him reaggravating the ankle injury.
Kupp has done so much and means so much to the Rams that he is someone they need to protect at all costs. Going into the offseason 100% healthy as opposed to having to rehab another significant injury could go a long way into Kupp and the Rams being successful in 2023 and beyond.
Although it’s not where the Rams were hoping to be, we’re getting close to 2022 being a lost season and it would be in their best interest to realize that before putting their star receiver in a position to get injured again.
Who needs to step up in Kupp’s absence
Meanwhile, with Kupp out, the Rams are losing 34% of their offense. In his absence, other receivers like Allen Robinson and Van Jefferson will need to step up. We know Matthew Stafford can rely on Tyler Higbee in the short and intermediate game, but someone will have to get open down the field for the Rams offense to have success.
Robinson’s first year with L.A. has been a major disappointment as he has just 29 receptions for 292 yards and two touchdowns in nine games. And Jefferson has hardly seen the field due to a knee injury although he is finally healthy and coming off his best game with three receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown against Arizona.
Kupp missing some time could actually be a blessing in disguise in the long run if it allows Stafford to build some chemistry with his other weapons instead of just force-feeding Kupp. Ultimately though, the Rams will surely miss their best receiver so wishing Kupp a speedy recovery!