The Los Angeles Rams have kicked off their 2021 campaign in incredibly impressive fashion, compiling a 3-1 record thus far while scoring an impressive 28.8 points per contest. With head coach Sean McVay calling the shots and new starting quarterback Matthew Stafford settling into his new home nicely, this offense is firing on all cylinders once again.
Stafford has quickly identified Cooper Kupp as his favorite target in the passing game. The 69th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Kupp has kicked off his season in fine form, and currently ranks first in touchdown catches (5), second in receptions (30), and third in receiving yards (431). Kupp also leads the league in targets (46), proving just how often Stafford is looking to get the ball in his hands.
While Kupp's lightning-fast start has been welcomed with open arms, it's also contributed to a slow start for his pass-catching teammate Robert Woods, who has recorded just 172 receiving yards. Woods’ yardage total through four weeks represents a shockingly low 43 yards per game.
With Woods’ frustration slowly starting to boil over, McVay is trying to be cognizant of ways he can get his star receiver more involved.
"It's important for us to get a handful of guys involved," McVay said. "When Robert is involved, it's a good thing for our offense. That's something we want to continue to see displayed. Robert is a leader, a captain and he's doing a great job for us. We just need to get him more opportunities, and that starts with me."
There are a plethora of ways McVay could strategize getting Woods more touches in the immediate future. Jet sweeps and tunnel screens have long been a staple of McVay's offense, and Woods has previously been on the receiving end of several of those well-designed plays. We haven't seen many of those play-calls in 2021, and the reason why is obvious. The Rams' offense has understandably gone through a bit of a makeover while transitioning from Jared Goff to Stafford, who has a penchant for attempting tougher throws than Goff ever did. Stafford is a gunslinger that loves to push the ball down the field, whereas Goff typically preferred to keep things closer to the line of scrimmage, a style of play that meshed well with Woods' skill set in the short to intermediate areas of the field.
Although Stafford's arrival has been an absolute blessing for McVay, the Rams' offense, and their lofty Super Bowl goals, it's important they don't continue to neglect Woods, who's a terrific weapon to feature on offense. While McVay may be racking his brain for ways to keep Woods propped up and effective on offense, he simply has to take a peek at how he's deployed the former USC standout in recent years.
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