Did the Colts Ground the Rams’ Air Attack? A Closer Look

Cooper Kupp

Getty Cooper Kupp stiff arms Kenny Moore II during the Los Angeles Rams' 27-24 road win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, September 19.

Bold prediction I made on Friday, September 17: The Los Angeles Rams were going to be in for another bomb dropping day, this time in Indianapolis.

That meant…another 300-yard day from Matthew Stafford, the Rams’ wide receiving core going off on the Colts’ pass defense that came in depleted and my last projection, back-to-back bomb fests from the right arm of QB1.

Did any of that happen? And did I make good on my own predictions? Turns out I barely did as the Rams escaped by three points on Sunday, September 19. Here’s a dive:

Rams Came out Firing, but Colts Adjusted

On the first L.A. drive, the Rams passed on five of their first eight plays.

And all five passes racked up more than 12 yards, including this Cooper Kupp touchdown where he lines up as the single back in the backfield and forces Colts safety Khari Willis to trip.

Willis, however, redeemed himself on the subsequent defensive series for the Colts by playing the deep safety on this play with Kupp the intended target.

The Rams’ next scoring drive (a field goal by Matt Gay) saw seven passes on the 16-play drive. However, the Colts only allowed a 16 and 14-yard completion as the longest Ram aerial conversions.

For the rest of the game, the Rams managed a 43-yard Kupp catch, but that was the last lengthy completion. The Colts bottled the Rams to only two completions of 10+ yards after that Kupp screen.

Robert Woods finished with five catches for 64 yards and averaged 12.8 yards a catch. But he also noticed how difficult it became to get past the Colts.

“Really just one of those games where it’s on the road, hostile environment, and I guess they’re probably finding ways to win,” Woods told the L.A. media on Monday, September 20.

Rams HC Admits He Needs to get one Weapon More Involved

Sunday in Indy saw this rare stat line: DeSean Jackson with no catches or touches.

It wasn’t that Jackson wasn’t active. He was in on three plays according to Pro Football Focus. Jackson’s head coach Sean McVay said he’s got to find ways to get “D-Jax” more involved.

Jackson began his L.A. career with an 18-yard catch against the Chicago Bears and saw action on 14 plays that evening. In all of the trio of plays “D-Jax” was in on versus the Colts, it was all running plays.

Did Rams Air Attack Improve or Decline?

Here’s a compare and contrast of the L.A. air assault. Against the Bears, the Rams accomplished the following:

  • Got six total receivers involved in the offense, including four wide receivers.
  • Every receiver who caught a pass from Stafford had their longest gain between 17 to 67 yards.
  • Three Ram targets – Kupp, Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee – all accumulated more than 68 receiving yards.
  • Stafford, in his L.A. debut, averaged 12.3 yards per pass.

How did things shape out against the Colts? Completely different:

  • Stafford only averaged 9.3 yards per pass.
  • Only five receivers were involved.
  • Kupp and Woods combined for 14 receptions. Three more Rams – Henderson, Jefferson and Higbee – caught a combined five catches.
  • Versus the Bears, the Rams had seven passing plays that tallied 17 yards or more. Against the Colts? Only three of those chunk plays.

So the Colts managed to bottle as much as they could against the Rams’ air attack. It’s a credit to them especially with notable defenders DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and Willis battling injuries during their week of practice plus no Xavier Rhodes in the lineup. However, here’s where the Rams threw their counterpunch: With Stafford’s poise.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” McVay told reporters when asked about Stafford’s fourth quarter composure. “You want to keep the ball in your guys’ hands. He had a look in his eyes – I mean there was no flinch.”

Obviously, the Rams air raid didn’t surpass 300 yards like I called and was considered less explosive against the Colts. However, they made enough plays to jump in front of the Colts early then turned to Sony Michel to finish things off offensively. So my prediction result was mixed. I’ll take it.

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