It was only about a month ago when everyone was ripping and tormenting the Dallas Cowboys for trading a first-round pick for Amari Cooper. This past Sunday, he was the one doing the tormenting, absolutely torching the Eagles’ secondary for his second game with at least 180+ yards and 2 touchdowns while being a member of his new team.
Since the Dallas Cowboys traded for Cooper, they are 5-1, have beaten one of the best teams in football, and have become the frontrunners in the NFC East. Nothing but good things have come from Dallas since the trade, and even though this team may not be ready to contend for a Super Bowl just yet, they have shown a lot of hope for their fan base.
Cooper came into his first game as a Dallas Cowboy with 287 yards and a single touchdown on only 22 receptions. After last night, he has now scrapped together 642 yards and 6 touchdowns on 40 receptions as a Cowboy and has totaled 987 yards along with 7 touchdowns throughout the season. I was actually surprised to see that so many people hated the trade—and I get that it would’ve have been nice to get him for a second-round pick—people acted like he isn’t still a very talented wide receiver with a Pro Bowl and a couple 1000-yard seasons under his belt.
If there is one thing I have taken away from Cooper being on both Dallas and Oakland, it’s usage. While he was on the Raiders, Jon Gruden made it a priority at the beginning of the season to get Cooper the ball and to focus the offense around him. Well, we all know that Gruden likes to say a lot of things. But let’s be real, can you believe anything he says at this point? This was something I tried to make a point about when I first wrote about the trade after news broke, mostly because people were really shitting on Coop for the way he was playing, not only this year but the year prior. Hypothetically speaking, if you want to compare the way he was used just this year in both systems, they are very different. In his first 6 games with the Raiders, he was only targeted 22 times and had only seen more than 5 targets twice, which so happens to be both the games where he racked up more than 100 yards.
Take a look at how his target share compares between both teams.
- Week 1- 3 targets and 1 catch for 9 yards
- Week 2- 10 targets and 10 catches for 116 yards
- Week 3- 5 targets and 2 catches for 17 yards
- Week 4- 12 targets and 8 catches for 128 yards (1 touchdown)
- Week 5- 1 target and 1 catch for 10 yards
- Week 6- 1 target and no catches for 0 yards (left game with a concussion)
- Week 7- BYE
- Week 8-BYE
- week 9 – 8 targets and 5 catches for 58 yards (scored in the first game with the team)
- Week 10- 12 targets and 8 catches for 75 yards
- Week 11- 5 targets and 3 catches for 38 yards
- Week 12- 9 targets and 8 catches for 180 yards (2 touchdowns)
- Week 13- 8 targets and 8 catches for 75 yards
- Week 14- 13 targets and 10 catches for 217 yards (3 touchdowns)
Just from looking at both of these lists, I’m sure you can see my point. It’s really not hard to tell that Cooper is the type of player you need to keep feeding in order to get production. In his past 6 games with the Cowboys, Cooper is currently averaging 107 yards a game, while he averaged just 44 yards a game as a member of the Raiders earlier this season. Not only has Cooper’s production put a pin in the whole first-round pick nonsense, but he has also given everyone an opportunity to shine in their own role.
The Impact of Amari Cooper
Before signing Cooper, Dak never really had a reliable WR1 in his system which evidently put them at an immediate disadvantage. This offense already runs through Zeke and without that reliable receiver on the outside, it didn’t seem to hard to tell where the ball was going most of the time. Before the trade, Zeke wasn’t having a bad season, but there were some games he just couldn’t get anything going. He rushed for more than 100 yards in 3 of the first 6, but only managed to get over 60 yards once in the other three. However, it has been a whole different story since acquiring Cooper. He has now gone over the century mark in 5 of his last 6 games and has scored a total of 5 touchdowns in that span.
Not only is Zeke feeding off of the Cooper trade, but this whole offense looks like it has gotten a nice boost of confidence since the trade. I don’t think there is anyone on this team who should be more grateful than Dak since bringing in Cooper. Before the trade, Dak had only thrown for more than 200 yards twice. He has now thrown over 200 yards in every single game since getting Cooper, and had a career day on Sunday, throwing for 455 yards and 3 touchdowns—Cooper caught all 3. Although Dak did turn the ball over 3 times, he showed determination throughout the game as well as a lot more chemistry with Cooper with regard to the deep ball (which they haven’t really been on the same page with).
Since the trade, Dak has also been able to spread the ball around more, letting this supporting cast finally come into its own. Michael Gallup has turned into a nice second option for Dak as he brings a lot of speed, precise route running, and a big body to his game. Gallup was looked at to be maybe the guy to take over as the WR1, but that was a lot to ask for someone they drafted in the third round. He has now managed to rack up a total of 404 yards and 1 touchdown on 27 receptions and just so happened to have his best half of the season after trading for Cooper. Cole Beasley was the No. 1 option before Cooper came into the mix, so he was actually having a better season statistically before the Cooper trade, but that doesn’t change the fact that he has been a key option in some of these wins. Beasley is on the smaller side for receivers, so creating separation is where he does a lot of his damage, but as a No. 1 option, it was tougher than usual, as he would be covered by the best corner on the opposing team. So far this year, Beasley has still scrapped up a total of 486 yards and 2 touchdowns on 50 catches.
Like I said, they’re not bad receivers, but they thrive more as a supporting cast rather than being go-to guys. Not to mention, since signing Cooper, they have also been able to get their tight ends involved more each game as Swaim and Jarwin have become more reliable week in and week out. They may not pose a threat like Gronk or Kelce do, but they have been productive when it’s needed the most. This Cowboys team may not be ready for the big stage just yet, but they look like they’re finally starting to hit their stride.
*Photo: Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports