Is Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford Too Reliant On Cooper Kupp?

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Immediately after Matthew Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, he build a bond with Cooper Kupp both on and off the field that is almost unreplicated in the NFL.

Stafford is responsible for the two best receiving seasons of all time as Calvin Johnson is the record-holder with 1964 yards in 2012. Right behind him though is Kupp’s 2021 season when he had the triple crown with 145 receptions for 1947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He carried that dominance into the postseason, where he finished with 32 receptions for 378 yards and six touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors.

Through three games this season, Stafford and Kupp have picked up right where they left off as the latter is tied for the league lead with 35 targets along with Stefon Diggs and Ja’Marr Chase, good for 28 receptions for 280 yards and four total touchdowns.

When it comes to targets, the next closest player on the Rams is tight end Tyler Higbee with 24 followed by Ben Skowronek with 13 and Allen Robinson with 12. With Kupp being that far ahead of everybody else, it begs the question:

Is Stafford relying too much on Kupp?

I guess the simple answer would be yes as Kupp is on pace for 198 targets, which would even eclipse last season’s total of 191.

The reason I believe Stafford is too reliant on Kupp isn’t because it’s ineffective though. It has clearly been the Rams’ best source of offense this season and it’s hard to blame Stafford as it feels like Kupp is open on every play.

What I’m concerned about is Kupp’s workload though and how it could lead to injury. Kupp has already torn his ACL once and while he looks as healthy as ever, he is reaching an unprecedented target share in a two-season span.

The Rams gave Robinson a three-year, $46 million contract in free agency for a reason, and I can all but guarantee it was with the intention for him to average more than four targets a game.

Getting Van Jefferson back will be helpful here as the Rams’ deep threat had an 800-yard season last year. He will be out through at least the Rams’ Week 7 bye with a knee injury, but once he returns, that is another quality option for Stafford to spread the ball around to. And obviously if the Rams bring back Odell Beckham Jr. at some point that will help as well.

Every win is important in the NFL so it is hard to fault Stafford and the Rams for targeting Kupp as much as they do. But with the greater goal of winning a Super Bowl in mind, ideally, Kupp can stay healthy and fresh for the second half of the season to help L.A. get back to the big game.