The initial shock has worn off, Amari Cooper is a Dallas Cowboy. It remains a hefty a price to pay, but now they move forward. Cooper will line up with Dak Prescott and the offense when they play the Titans on Monday Night Football in a few weeks.
Without training camp or any preseason games to evaluate Cooper’s role, it’s difficult to know exactly how he fits with the Cowboys. We know he was a highly drafted player who excelled in his first two seasons. In his rookie year, Cooper caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns.
In a league where young receivers tend to struggle, you could see just how good Cooper was when he was just 21-years old. He backed that up with an 83 catch, 1,153 season the following year.
Things changed last season when there were some inconsistencies with the Oakland offense and it hasn’t gotten much better under John Gruden this year. However, Cooper does have two 100 yard games this season, which gives him one more than the entire Cowboys receiving corps.
We know what Cooper did as a Raider, now we need to find out what he can do for Dallas. If this trade is going to make sense, the coaches need to put together a plan to best utilize, not only Cooper, but all of their skill positions. You don’t trade a first-round pick for Cooper and not use him to the best of his ability, let’s hope there are tweaks coming to this Cowboys offense with their new receiver in the fold.
Looking at the Cowboys receivers now and it just looks different. Cooper’s name adds weight and a top three of him, Cole Beasley and Michael Gallup is a much more formidable group. Allen Hurns and everyone else shifting to more of a rotational role should benefit the offense.
Dallas also has some options at tight end, but Geoff Swaim should be garnering more significant playing time than the other three in the group. Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and Rico Gathers can all play a role, but the Swaim Train should be leaving the station much more often.
That leaves three good receivers, one solid tight end, and, of course, the star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, to attack defenses. That screams 11 personnel (three WR’s, 1 TE, 1RB) and the Cowboys can exploit defenses by using it more. Cooper brings a legitimate threat in the passing game and he must be accounted for, Beasley is always open out of the slot and Gallup continues to improve, so this should be the preferred scheme.
This personnel group would allow Prescott to have some easier throws and defenses would be forced to go light in the box. When that happens, Elliott will gash teams in the run game. This offense too often faces seven, eight or nine-man defensive fronts to slow the rushing game. By spreading out the defense, Elliott would be able to run wild.
Before the trade, the Cowboys didn’t have a legitimate deep threat to scare defenses from crowding the line of scrimmage, Cooper solves that issue. With 11 personnel, the offense can make defenses pick their poison.
Jerry Jones talked about the offense being like the Los Angeles Rams a few weeks ago, the Rams under Sean McVay use 11 personnel more than any other team in the league. You’d be hard pressed to find a more efficient offense in the NFL now than the Rams and it was just a few years ago when they were one of the worst offenses in the business. Two years ago Todd Gurley’s skills were being wasted and Jared Goff was a bust, things look much different now.
The Cowboys aren’t the Rams, the coaches aren’t as creative and it’ll take time to mesh. However, there is no reason Dallas can’t be much more productive on offense by utilizing their players in a more efficient manner.
If the Cowboys can tweak their tendencies and use 11 personnel more often, they can maximize their potential on offense. If Dallas fails to adjust after making the trade for Cooper, it could be another busted trade by the team.
We have to wait almost two weeks to find out.
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