When I began the exercise, I knew Amari Cooper’s career numbers were going to tell a screwy story.
I didn’t, however, know it would be this compelling. This kid is a broken player and he must be fixed.
While much of the excitement about the pending hiring of Jon Gruden as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders centers around his ability to help quarterback Derek Carr bounce back from a poor 2017 season, but Cooper needs as much help from Gruden as Carr does. Gruden and his new staff must find a way to get more consistency from Cooper. Plus, they must rid himself of his nasty habit of dropping passes.
The 2017 season was supposed to be Cooper’s breakout year and the year he showed consistency. He went backward. The drops persisted and the production waned. Cooper finished the season with 48 catches for 680 yards. Those are not the numbers of a true No. 1 receiver the Raiders used the No. 4 overall draft pick on Cooper in 2015. Cooper’s 2017 numbers resembled the output of an average No. 2 receiver.
Truly, that what Cooper has been for the second half of his NFL career – just an average guy. Going back to my exercise, Cooper’s number splits are staggering and confusing. Basically, Cooper has been an excellent receiver in the first eight games of his career and the first eight games of his second season. Injuries curtailed his play his rookie season. He swooned in the second half of 2016. Former Oakland coach Jack Del Rio said Cooper’s issues that season were not injury-related. He was invisible for much of 2017. He did have a monster game against Kansas City in October when he had 210 yards receiving. However, he was just average at best for other 17 games of the past seasons and a half, including the 2017 playoffs.
Look at these numbers: First eight games of 2015 and 2016 combined: 103 catches for 1,440 yards. In his other 31 games: 102 catches for 1,473 yards.
That’s just bizarre. What does it all mean? It mostly means that much of Cooper’s career has been underwhelming.
There is hope for him, though. He has had success in the NFL and he showed flashes toward the end of this season with long scores in the last two games. But then he disappeared. Still, Cooper is just 23 years old. He will be 24 going into his fourth season. Not all is lost here.
But there is also a lot to worry about. Gruden and the Raiders will have a tough decision to make this summer. Should they exercise’s Cooper’s fifth-year option or let him play in his fourth season and risk losing him as a free agent at the end of the year. We really won’t know what Cooper’s future is until he gets a year with Gruden.
In Gruden can help Cooper become a consistent playmaker who doesn’t drop the ball, he’ll be in business. However, if Cooper still vanishes and drops the ball in Year Four, Gruden will not want him.
This is a confusing one. Just like the first thee years of Cooper’s career.
Cooper instantly becomes one of Gruden’s biggest tasks in addition to Carr. Of course, fixing Cooper will go a long way in fixing Carr.
Get to work, Chuckie.