Cooper Kupp was one of my favorite rookies coming into the season this year. He was someone I was grabbing at the end of drafts this year and someone I’m going to be watching closely this season. His regular season debut in Week 1 went better than I think most could’ve even hoped for, as he ended the game with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Throughout the game, Kupp was targeted six times by quarterback Jared Goff, so we’re going to take a look at each and every target for QB List’s very first GIF breakdown.
Target 1: Incomplete Pass
On this play, Kupp runs a quick out route and makes a good cut but is unable to come down with the pass inbounds. Robert Woods starts running what looks to be a wheel route and Darius Butler commits to him one-on-one. This leaves Kupp against Nate Hairston who isn’t really able to close in on him. You can see in this closer angle that Kupp actually makes a nice catch, but he needs to be able to keep his feet inbounds. Not necessarily a knock against him, that’s a tough catch, but still.
Target 2: Short pass right complete for 6 yards
Here, Kupp gets his first catch of his regular season NFL career on a drag route across the field. Darius Butler comes in to cover him but not before Goff is able to get a quick pass off to him after getting shot by a sniper apparently. You can see in this next gif how Kupp is able to stiff arm Butler until he’s able to get out of bounds for a first down.
Target 3: Deep pass left complete for 24 yards
This might be my favorite catch that Kupp made the entire game. Kupp runs a crossing pattern into open space that’s made open thanks to Robert Woods clearing up the left side on a go route, a play you can see better from this angle:
Looking at the play, it kind of looks like he originally was going to do five yards and run a quick dig route but he sees the open space and fades the route a bit. Then he’s able to knock the ball down out of the open air and bring it in. By that time, Darius Butler’s coming in from deep and Kupp makes him miss a tackle and look stupid. Keep in mind, Kupp’s a pretty big dude for a receiver at 6’2″, 205 lbs, so he’s not the easiest dude to bring down. Still, Butler misses a tackle and Kupp’s able to gain a few more yards before getting swarmed. That’s a top-notch play from a rookie and one of the plays that makes me really excited about Kupp this year.
Target 4: Deep pass over the middle complete for 18 yards and a touchdown
Now this was a play that made me think “Huh. Maybe Jared Goff isn’t all that bad,” because that was quite a pretty throw he tossed in to Kupp for a touchdown. Kupp runs a nice post and cuts right between Darius Butler and T.J. Green. Butler passes Kupp off to Green and Green just can’t keep up, which you can see better here:
Now this is where him playing a secondary as bad as the Colts’ is helpful, because a better corner than Green might have seen him stare down Kupp his whole route and break up the pass or intercept the ball, but Green is not that corner, and Kupp gets his first career NFL touchdown.
Target 5: Pass incomplete over the middle
This play is just one of those plays where a receiver misses a wide open catch, and it’s unfortunate because it was a well-run route that had the potential for plenty of yards, but Kupp just bricks it bad. But take a look at Kupp’s route here:
Kupp’s route looks to just be a slant route with an out fake, but our own Seth Friedmann spoke to Coy Wire about this route, and he said that the Rams are calling it an angle route. Now this is interesting, because typically just running backs and tight ends run angle routes and they don’t typically look like that. But according to Wire, the Rams call this an angle because Kupp’s trying to get the corner (in this case, Nate Hairston) to open his hips as if to cover the flat. What you can see in the All-22 cam is that it totally works and Hairston gets faked out bad. Had Kupp caught this, he would’ve easily gotten a first down and maybe more.
Target 6: Deep pass right complete for 28 yards
Kupp’s final target is my second favorite catch of his and another one that gets me hyped about his potential. This is a bad throw by Goff, as he’s throwing deep to Kupp and throws it short, so Kupp has to slow down and fend off Quincy Wilson to make an awesome catch. We can get a better look at the route here:
Kupp runs a wheel route and buys time at the line to let the other wide receivers clear the field for him. He had Wilson beat had Goff actually lead him with his pass, though if he had lead him more, the pass might’ve been broken up cause Malik Hooker was coming in hot.
In all, I have to say I’m impressed with Kupp. He had some rookie moments for sure, but the dude looks quite talented. He made two amazing catches and ran his routes well. He’s got great size and decent speed (he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at the combine) and pretty solid hands. Goff seems to like him and trust him and even though he’s behind Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods on the depth chart, I still think he could see some reasonable production.
Looking into this game also made me think two other things. First, the Colts secondary is bad. I mean it looks pitiful. They were routinely beaten over and over again, whether just with pure speed on go routes or getting faked out on other routes, they did not look good. Even Darius Butler, who’s supposed to be the highlight of the Colts defense looked rough. And second, Jared Goff doesn’t look terrible. He made some nice throws, showed some good pocket patience under pressure, and showed a bit of potential. Goff has the tools to succeed, and I’m a bit more optimistic now that he can take advantage of them.