Studies In Frustration: Raiders’ Cooper Aims to Breakout

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Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper
Aug 19, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) warms up before the start of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

After five weeks, including three straight horrible games, fans and experts around the league are wondering one thing about the Raiders offense this season, “Where’s Amari Cooper?” How does a WR that has two been to the pro bowl each of the last two seasons, only have 13 catches through the first five weeks of 2017? Over a course of a season, that averages out to 42 catches for the entire year. That’s about half the amount he had the last season (83 receptions). Cooper was poised to have a breakout season this year and finally enter the elite receiver status. That’s not been the case so far in 2017. Let’s dive in a little deeper and point out what could be the issues for the former Alabama star.

 

  1. The quick screen/short pass are not there

For whatever reason, the Raiders quick screen/WR bubble game is not present this season. Former Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave seemed to favor the quick pass routes last season and Cooper made a living on such throws. Versus the Texans last year, Cooper took one of those quick screens and turned it into a 35 yard touchdown in Mexico City. New OC Todd Downing needs to get back to the things that worked and get Cooper going with the quick stuff. For example, this week against the Chargers (especially early in the game) would be a great time to get Cooper some easy catches and into the flow of things. This will open up the passing game and help either Derek Carr or EJ Manuel build that much needed confidence in Cooper.

 

  1. The drops are back again

After being one of the league leaders in drops his rookie season (10), Cooper improved in his sophomore campaign with just three total for the season. Unfortunately, in year three, the 2016 pro-blower has reverted back to his 2015 ways. Cooper has already matched his total drops from last year, in only five games and 33 targets. This is very concerning, especially since his average weekly target rate has gone down. Cooper started the season in week 1 with a team high 13 targets and he now to only two looks on Sunday. When a receiver is struggling to get involved, drops can only magnifying the issue mentally.

 

Cooper is too talented to have this type of season. We’ve seen his production the last two years and know the former first round pick is better than this. If Cooper can get going from this point forward, it can do wonders for this offense.

 


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