We haven’t seen Amari Cooper play in an actual game since Oct. 14, when the Raiders suffered a 24-point loss at the hands of the Seahawks in London. Since that game, Cooper enjoyed his bye week with the Raiders, got traded to Dallas, and then enjoyed another bye week with the Cowboys. On Monday, Cooper will make his debut with the Cowboys against the Titans.
By the sound of it, we should expect to see a ton of Cooper. The Cowboys won’t be easing him in, according to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
Cooper, a former first-round pick who racked up 3,183 yards and 19 touchdowns in his 3.5-year career with the Raiders, will immediately become the Cowboys’ best receiver. That’s partly due to both Cooper’s skillset — for all of his inconsistencies, he’s still a good player — and the other receivers on the Cowboys’ roster.
Through seven games, the Cowboys’ leading receiver in terms of yardage is slot man Cole Beasley, who’s caught 33 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Second on the team is tight end Geoff Swaim, who’s hauled in 19 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown. Third is rookie Michael Gallup, who’s totaled 10 receptions, 190 yards, and one score. The point being, the Cowboys might’ve had the worst receiving group in football before landing Cooper, though the Bills’ receiving crew is up there too.
That’s why it’s not at all surprising to hear that the Cowboys are planning to feature Cooper heavily on Monday night. Even if Cooper hasn’t mastered the Cowboys’ offense, he’s still going to be their best option in the passing game by a country mile. That doesn’t mean the Cowboys were wise to give up a first-round pick for Cooper — it still seems like a huge overpay, especially after seeing what happened at the trade deadline — but Cooper does at least give them a respectable downfield threat. If they’re going to make a late postseason push after starting 3-4, they need to reinvigorate their passing attack. For that to happen, they need Cooper.
But if anyone is expecting Cooper to singlehandedly turn around the Cowboys’ offense, they’re expecting the impossible. The Cowboys’ problems extend beyond personnel. It’s also about the scheme and play-calling as the Cowboys use an offense designed for the Middle Ages. He might help, but Cooper won’t magically transform the Cowboys’ offense, which checks in at 25th in DVOA, 26th in points per game, and 28th in yards per game.
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