NFL Reader Q&A: Cooper Kupp, Chargers Defense, Rams Schedule

Have the Rams and Chargers done enough to fill the depth roles and improve their weak spots? Will we see a repeat of Cooper Kupp’s MVP production? The questions have been slightly edited for clarity and length.

Why do so many players have a phenomenal banner year, but the next year they have a less than stellar performance? East Cooper Kupp destined to be another statistic or can it come close to another amazing year?

Nimish Patel, Santa Monica

Gary Klein: The word “phenomenal” explains most of the reason. Doing something extraordinary or remarkable is difficult. To do more than once…

But unless he’s injured, don’t expect Cooper Kupp to experience a huge drop in production.

He will almost certainly remain quarterback Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. And the addition of talented receiver Allen Robinson could open up new opportunities for Kupp.

Will Kupp lead the NFL again in catches, receiving yards and catches?

Difficult to predict. No player has ever done that two years in a row. If Kupp repeats himself, that would be considered phenomenal.

Do the Chargers finally have a decent interior defensive line? Every year we hear that either through conscription or through free will they solved the problem. Did they finally succeed?

Tom Richards, Delray Beach, Florida.

Jeff Miller: They look much better to open this season, much deeper and with more impactful players. But, you know how it goes, we’ll see when the games actually start. One thing to consider is the status of Jerry Tillery. Last year, he played for nearly 74% of snaps defensively, fourth on the team. As long as everyone is healthy, Tillery will likely play less this year due to the improved depth. The real answer to that question won’t be known until the inevitable injuries hit and the D-line gets a little stressed.

I believe the defending Super Bowl champions have the toughest schedule. How will this affect the Rams’ chance to repeat?

Bob Oh, Sylmar

Klein: There’s a reason no team has repeated as Super Bowl champions since the 2004 season, and the schedule the defending champion plays is likely one of the factors.

But remember: Due to the competitive balance of the NFL and the unpredictability of injuries and other issues, what looks tough in the spring when the schedule comes out and in September when the season begins, isn’t always what happens.

For example, last season the Rams played a season-ending game against the Baltimore Ravens. When the schedule came out, it looked like a tough game against quarterback Lamar Jackson. But by the time the Rams played in Baltimore, Jackson was sidelined with an injury.

This season, the Rams have what looks like a tough NFC West matchup on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. But Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games, so he won’t play in this game against the Rams.

The thing is, there are a lot of variables that will determine how tough the schedule really was. We won’t know until the end of the season.

What kind of business value would Bryce Perkins command? Or do you think the teams will call the bluff and wait for an exit? With bodies actually needed in other positions, carrying three QBs this year seems pointless.

George Metalsky, Redondo Beach

Klein: UPDATE: Perkins, for the second straight season, made the initial roster that was announced Tuesday.

Perkins’ resume consists of preseason performances, so another team would likely offer nothing but a late draft pick if they were interested in adding him to the roster.

The most likely scenario would have been to wait for his release. But the Rams, for the second consecutive year, did not want to take the risk of exposing him to waivers. My feeling is that the Rams will eventually move him to the practice squad where he can continue to compete to eventually edge out John Wolford.

And the Rams do the math before making those decisions. This isn’t considered wasteful because, with the ability to protect and move players from the practice squad to the roster, teams are actually dealing with almost 70 players, not 53.

Has the Chargers’ defensive depth improved? The second team looked outmatched against the Saints.

George Morton, San Diego

Miller: The Chargers started five and maybe six guys against New Orleans who won’t be on the team to open the season. So there is this. There’s also the fact that the Saints started the game with several of their starters, including quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Alvin Kamara. The short answer is yes, the Chargers’ defensive depth has improved a lot, especially up front where they had so many problems last season. They are also much deeper in the middle.

There is a short turnaround in the first two games for the Chargers. How do they plan to manage their preparation to participate in these important games?

George Morton, San Diego

Miller: The worst thing about the Chargers schedule is that those first two games are AFC West contests. The opener against the Raiders is expected to be a very emotional one after the teams’ Week 18 game last year in Las Vegas. Turning around to immediately play the Chiefs in KC will be extremely difficult. They will start recovering from the Raider game immediately after it ends before they even leave SoFi Stadium. The intermediate practices will be done mainly at the pace of the procedure to follow. The NFL did the Chargers a disservice to open the season.

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