All-22 Film Breakdown: Why Riley Cooper is a legitimate No. 2 receiver


Riley Cooper found his niche last season in Philadelphia’s offense, but it wasn’t until Nick Foles became the starting quarterback. The reason? Mike Vick simply didn’t throw his way.

Riley Cooper’s average targets per game
Mike Vick: 4.5
Nick Foles: 6.1

*Numbers do not include 2 games against NYG due to QB instability/injury

With Foles at the helm, Cooper saw his targets increase by almost 33%. That’s staggering. His production expectedly went up as well:

Cooper’s production, broken down by QB
with Mike Vick: 2 catches/game, 93 total yards, 23.25 yards/game
with Nick Foles: 3.90 catches/game, 797 yards, 72.45 yards/game

*Numbers do not include 2 games against NYG due to QB instability/injury

So why did Vick hesitate to throw Cooper the ball? Critics of Cooper’s game would tell you he couldn’t get open. The tape however, tells an entirely different story. Let’s have a look:

Play 1

The first picture below is Week 2 against the San Diego Chargers. You can see that Vick has a clean pocket to work with. He appears to have two primary reads — DeSean Jackson on a crosser over the middle and Riley Cooper on a fly route. On this play, Vick actually completes a pass to Jackson that goes for a nice gain.

photo 5

However, you’ll notice at the top of the screen that Cooper has a straight shot to the end zone with no one even close to him. The Chargers’ safety (highlighted in red) is leaning forward and already has his shoulders turned. If Vick throws a nice ball, the safety would have no chance and this play would most likely result in a touchdown. I can understand Vick wanting to play it safe, but that’s a routine throw to Cooper down the field.

Play 2

On the next play, Jackson and Cooper are both running in-breaking routes. Vick once again has a clean pocket and is looking in Jackson’s direction, but the linebacker at the 45-yard line is in good position to make a play.

photo 2

In the next frame, you’ll notice that Vick makes no attempt to look towards Cooper at all. Not only is Cooper open coming out of his break, the Chargers’ linebacker (highlighted in red) has to come up to defend LeSean McCoy, who is leaking out in the middle of the field. The window for Vick to throw to Cooper is huge, but for whatever reason he’s looking at the sideline.

photo 3

The next photo gives you a better look at the clean pocket for Vick, and the linebacker coming up to defend McCoy:

photo 4

Vick decides to bail early when he could have stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike to Cooper. He ends up scrambling to his right and fumbling the ball out of bounds.

Play 3

On this play, Vick has to step up in the pocket to avoid edge pressure, but he has his eyes set on a covered Jackson all the way across the field. One glance to the top of the screen shows Cooper flying by his man in single coverage, streaking wide open down the sideline. If you take a close look, you’ll even notice Cooper has his hand up in the air. I’d imagine he’s yelling something along the lines of, “MIKE! HERE! I’M OVER HERE!” The Chargers’ safety is on the far hash and has no prayer to make up that much ground. With a good throw (and a much easier one compared to Jackson), this is another touchdown.

photo 1

Vick ends up throwing this ball in the dirt at Jackson’s feet.

Play 4

This next play against the Kansas City Chiefs demonstrates that Cooper has the ability to beat man coverage on his own. He runs a simple fly route down the sideline, and easily creates separation. The interior protection broke down on this play for Vick, but the fact remains that Cooper got open.

photo 8

Play 5

On this play against the Denver Broncos, Cooper runs a post while facing 1-on-1 man coverage with a single high safety.

photo 11

Cooper does such a good job running his route that the Broncos’ defensive back actually falls down. As you can see, he is wide open coming out of his break but Vick isn’t looking in his direction, even though the rest of the Eagles’ receivers are covered.

photo 12

The next photo illustrates Vick’s clean pocket right around the time Cooper is coming out of his break. Vick ended up scrambling around on this play and picked up a few yards on the ground.

photo 13

And so it seems that Cooper’s slow start was more so a result of Vick’s impatience in the pocket and inability to read defenses, which are two things he’s struggled with his entire NFL career.

Regardless, Cooper has always been a bit of an enigma in Philadelphia. Many credit his production in 2013 as a product of Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme and the presence of DeSean Jackson. Others question whether he has the ability to consistently separate in man coverage.

One look at the tape proves that Cooper can — and will — continue to be an explosive piece in the Eagles offense in 2014 and beyond.

Follow us on Twitter at @cover32_NFL and Tyler at @tbfuhrman.

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  • Colin

    Great read, really enjoyed it!!!!!

  • phiroc

    Good article and breakdown. I wonder how much being recognized this year as the number two and garnering #2 coverage from the opposing D will influence his ability to make plays. I know Chip talks a lot about separation and Cooper is able to get that (at least from these shots. I think Kelly will install so many more receiver options this year and will run a very different offense from many other teams, using his TE’s and RB’s to catch balls and keep the defense on its toes that Cooper will continue to have success as a #2 wide receiver.

  • jay Nova

    Am a die hard Eagles fan but am excited for the possibilities the Eagles have this year. much Improve defense and better offence.. The Eagles will be better without the Vick (garbage QB) and Desean the it all about me Jackson… We have a more solid team this year. get ready People the Eagles could win the SB this year….Maclin is a better and more physical receiver then Jackson and with the new additions, team will go into games not knowing what they gonna get. get ready world Kelly will be the next belichek.. Philly the next Power House..

    • Schultz

      After the Seahawk defense gets through with Ku Klux Kooper, I doubt he’ll survive the season.

      • Coopah Troopa

        To quote some white guy, he’ll ” fight all those &%$’s in there, brah.”

  • Harby

    I am a die hard Eagles fan. I love the way you explain all the nuances of the QB/Receiver scenarios. While I liked Vick and hoped for some great QB-ing from just didn’t happen. I am so happy to have Folesy!!

  • Rod

    Cooper is faster than people give him credit for. he’s improved evry year in the league but he still has to get more catches and move the chains more consistently to be a good #2. This article shows 4 plays over the span of what 4-5 games? You have to take that with a grain of salt. Even the best QB’s to ever play the game miss a few open receivers every game. It’s a fast paced game and they only have a split-second to make a decision.

    • sox12st

      Rod you’re missing the point entirely. Vick NEVER looked Cooper’s way unless the play was designed to go to Riley. Vick is a terrible QB who relied on his speed and scrambling ability to move the ball. NFL teams figured that out and now with his diminished speed, Vick is done as a viable starting QB in the NFL.

      • Leroy

        If it wasn’t for Vick, Kooper would have gotten his racist butt stomped in the locker room on several occasions. For whatever reasons, Vick managed to calm the brothers down before they gave Riley the beating he deserved.

        • Kyle

          Coopers one of the biggest guys on the team, he’s like 6’4″ 250 with a 40″ vertical. That kind of athleticism doesn’t grow on trees.

  • pete

    Vick was determined to freeze Cooper out of the league for his comments at that concert. Vick played the good soldier for his paycheck and said all of the things that the liberal media needed him to say but the bottom line is Vick was determined to freeze him out and the liberal talking heads on sports radio in this town who have access to the coaches tapes said absolutely nothing to defend this better than average solid #2 receiver. I am glad that Chip Kelly and Howie had the balls to allow Vick to walk and also open the door for Vicks little side kick Desean walk as well. Talk about racist. Look at yourself Mike Vick.

    • Leroy

      I doubt that the brothas will allow Ku Klux Kooper to survive the season without Vick and Jackson on the team to protect his behind. The Seahawks game will be Kooper’s last.

  • bert

    riley will have a great year. I may be old, but I have watched eagles for 50 yrs. conner barwin needs to be a little nicer to public. leave the 21 yr. old guys alone. was getting pic of riley for me. didn’t have to shove him.

  • Anonymous

    Vick targeted Cooper in the play off game against the Packers and many felt that Cooper did not work to get the ball and little to stop the game and season ending interception. “Once bitten twice shy”

    • Anonymous

      Are you you rely that stupid or are you just blind. In that playoff game cooper had his defender beat and Vick just flat out under threw the ball. Cooper was trying to come over the defenders back to knock it way. That pass should have been high and to the corner but once again Vick cant read a defence. If you like vick so much go be a JETS fan

  • Schultz

    Cooper is not to be trusted after he dropped that easy pass and cost us the playoff game against New Orleans.

    • Gamesmaster

      That “staggering” 33% increase amounted to 1 1/2 more passes per game. Great article.