It doesn’t happen often, but Jerry Jones has officially won the trade with Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. Many, including myself, were skeptical about giving up a first-round pick for fourth-year receiver Amari Cooper. Through six games with the Dallas Cowboys, that debate has been put to rest.
Cooper has been sensational since coming to Dallas, and that’s being modest. In six weeks, the former Crimson Tide receiver has 40 receptions for 642 yards and six touchdowns. He has single-handedly elevated the Cowboys offense to levels they had not seen in 2018.
Even more important than Cooper’s individual statistics is the team’s play. Dallas has gone 5-1 since his acquisition, including winning its last five.
Cooper has finally given the Cowboys a true No. 1 option on the outside they had been missing the first half of the season. The absence of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were felt significantly as the Cowboys struggled to find consistency in the passing game early on.
Allen Hurns was supposed to be one of the guys helping fill that void, but he’s barely contributed at all this year. Rookie Michael Gallup has shown signs of promise, but that’s not exactly what you’re looking for in terms of your top receiving target.
Cooper has filled that role completely and exceeded just about everyone’s expectations. Beyond having tremendous stats, Coop has clearly been the most important offensive player on the field behind running back Ezekiel Elliott. He makes timely catches on third downs and when the offense seems to be stagnant, he’s the guy Dak Prescott and Scott Linehan use to gain some breathing room.
Dec 9, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper (19) runs after a reception against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
He’s also shown off an explosive-play ability Dallas hasn’t seen since Bryant was in his prime. Cooper has taken a number of “regular” grabs and used his impressive acceleration to make several game-changing plays.
Against Washington on Thanksgiving, Cooper took two shorter passes all the way for touchdowns. Both were massive plays for the offense and created separation on the scoreboard in a tight game.
The second score was a crazy 90-yard sprint from the 24-year-old. With just two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Cooper caught a Prescott pass around Dallas’ 33-yard-line. With three defenders surrounding him, Cooper was able to push away from one, put his foot in the ground to change direction, and dashed away from all three on his way to another touchdown.
Results were similar against Philadelphia. Despite the offense playing below par for the majority of the game, Cooper helped the team explode in the fourth quarter and overtime. He finished with 217 yards and three scores including a 75-yarder and the game clincher.
With Cooper producing like this, the rest of the team doesn’t need to do as much on a weekly basis. Gallup has developed into a solid No. 2 and Cole Beasley has held his own as the slot option. With Elliott still being the focal point of attention, this receiving corps can actually have a real impact. The Cowboys can thank Mr. Cooper and Jerry Jones for that.