THOUSAND OAKS — The connection between Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp has seemed so automatic, almost telepathic, in their four seasons as Rams teammates that you notice when it’s broken even briefly.
It has been broken lately, most glaringly in the Rams’ surprisingly bad losses to San Francisco and Miami.
There were uncharacteristic misfires by Goff. Rare dropped passes by Kupp, the biggest the one in the end zone against the 49ers. And times when the quarterback and wide receiver seemed to be working from different scripts.
“I think that kind of speaks to the standard that we have for ourselves,” Kupp responded when asked about it this week. “That is the expectation, that we are clicking at all times. We’ve been able to do that over the last few years.”
But Kupp acknowledged that “the standard we set for ourselves is better than (what) we’ve put on tape the last couple of weeks.”
“Obviously the things that stand out are the ones where we aren’t making plays, where he’s thinking I’m doing something else,” Kupp said, “or where I’m not making a play for him when he’s giving me a chance to make a play on a ball that isn’t right in my chest but is a play that I need to be able to make.”
As the Rams (5-3) prepare to start the second half of their schedule against the Seattle Seahawks (6-2) on Sunday, Kupp leads the team with 48 receptions for 527 yards, ahead of wide receiver Robert Woods’ 37 for 426.
But Kupp has dropped six passes, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. He had three all of last season. No other Ram has more than two.
“We have to find ways to make plays for Jared,” Kupp said. “There’s going to be contested catches, there’s going to be guys on us, there’s going to be tough plays to be made. We’ve got to do a better job making those plays.”
Goff didn’t place much significance on the ups and downs of his Kupp connection.
“I think you can only really point to a couple of plays in that Miami game,” the quarterback said, referring to times when they didn’t seem to be on the same page. “I’ve felt really good so far the whole year with Cooper. For a multitude of reasons, we (the Rams) were off in a lot of facets in Miami, myself mostly.”
Goff threw in Kupp’s direction 20 times against the Dolphins – the most in their 48 games together – completing 11 for 110 yards. The nine incompletions included an interception, the first of Goff’s four turnovers in the first half. Four were on third or fourth down, one of them a ball thrown behind Kupp that should have been caught.
In the Rams’ first four games this season, Goff completed 82.1% of his passes intended for Kupp, good for 10.6 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
In the last four, they’ve had 58.1% completions, 5.4 yards per throw, no touchdowns and two interceptions; the completion rate is their lowest in a four-game span since their second month together in 2017.
None of that has changed Kupp’s and Woods’ reputation with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
“They (the Rams) have utilized every bit of the talents that those two guys have,” Carroll said during a conference call with L.A. writers. “They’re just terrific football players. They do everything. They block really well, they run really well with the ball, they run really well after the catch, they get open, they’re playmakers, they come through in the clutch.”
Kupp was limited in practice Wednesday after coming out of the Miami game with right wrist and oblique injuries. But he was able to catch passes, and Rams coach Sean McVay said he’s on track to face Seattle.
To hear McVay tell it, the Goff-Kupp slump might be more of a symptom for an inconsistent offense than an isolated problem.
“Those guys have always had a good rapport and a good feel for one another,” McVay said. “There’s certain routes that Cooper’s running where there is a decision-making element to it, where he’s recognizing coverage structures and (it requires) he and Jared being on the same page.
“I expect us to be sharper overall as an entire operation. Obviously, Jared and Cooper are a huge part of that. I know that they’ll do better. I expect that.”
Carroll’s visits to the Coliseum for Seahawks-Rams games the past four years brought nostalgia for his USC days. But Carroll said he looks forward to seeing SoFi Stadium. “It looks so space age-like,” he said, “I’m just curious.” Also: “That visitor’s locker room at the Coliseum is one of worst places in professional sports, so it’s OK that we’re out of there. I’m sure they can’t put us in a closet like they did there.” … Running back Darrell Henderson (quadriceps) and left guard David Edwards (abdominal) missed practice Wednesday. … The Rams have won 20 times, the Seahawks 24, in a series that began in Seattle’s first NFL season in 1976. But the Rams lead 5-3 since they returned to L.A. in 2016. … Linebacker Natrez Patrick, waived by the Rams on Tuesday, was signed to the practice squad Wednesday after not being claimed by another team. … Kai Forbath is still the Rams’ kicker after chunking a field-goal attempt in his debut with the team, McVay said. “I do think you want to give Kai a chance to show his stuff,” McVay said. Forbath replaced Samuel Sloman. Austin MacGinnis is on the practice squad if Plan C is needed.