The Arizona Cardinals will face a tough task against the Rams on Sunday with one of the league’s best wide receivers in Cooper Kupp.
Last week, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy had a game to remember. After giving up an early touchdown to Davante Adams, he held the Raiders star receiver to just 12 yards all game. Of course, his 59-yard return in overtime to seal it for the Cardinals overshadowed his remarkable performance against Adams, but it sets the stage for a tilt against Cooper Kupp, arguably the league’s best receiver.
Last week, I wrote a similar article regarding Davante Adams, and the smartest thing will be for the Cardinals to exercise similar tactics on Kupp that I said they needed to use with Adams. Keep Murphy on him at all times, add in help over the top or across the middle frequently, and confuse quarterback Matthew Stafford or force him into making bad decisions.
How will the Arizona Cardinals stop Kupp?
Despite Stafford’s interception woes, Kupp is once again having a legendary season with 24 receptions through two games. Do the math, and that puts him on pace for 204 receptions this year. Stafford has four touchdown passes and Kupp caught three of them, two of which occurred last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
While using two players to account for Kupp will definitely help stop, or at least contain him, getting to Stafford often will also throw a damper in the Rams game plan. This is a football team who lost in a blowout to the Buffalo Bills and nearly squandered a four-possession lead to one of the NFL’s worst teams.
But let’s focus on the Rams game against Buffalo. How did the Bills end up embarrassing the Super Bowl champions? They sacked Stafford seven times, causing the erratic quarterback to throw three picks in the game, and it definitely threw off his timing with Kupp.
So if the Cardinals figure to stop Kupp, they also need to stop Stafford. To do this, Markus Golden, J.J. Watt, Dennis Gardeck, and other notable pass rushers need to apply constant pressure from varying angles.
Even against Buffalo, Kupp still got his yards. But the Bills minimized the damage Kupp caused by getting to Stafford. Reaching the quarterback is something the Cardinals struggled with for two weeks, so if there is ever a time for a breakout performance from the pass rush, it needs to come this Sunday.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)