The Dallas Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender, largely because Amari Cooper has changed their offense in dramatic fashion.
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Rarely does another position swing games singlehandedly. In fact, oddsmakers rarely ever factor other positions into their gambling lines because they don’t really impact the final score. So it’s hard to say a receiver, for example, is ever the difference between a win or a loss or the outcome of a season.
That hasn’t been the case in Dallas. Simply put, the addition of Amari Cooper has saved the Cowboys’ season.
When Dallas acquired Cooper, they were a team going nowhere fast. They were 3-4 and would eventually bottom out after a loss to the Titans on Monday Night Football. At 3-5, they were all but out of it in the NFC. With another loss or two, the Cowboys would surely have been out of the playoff hunt and the season would have been lost.
For most people, media, and fans included, the Cooper trade didn’t make sense for Dallas. Yes, they had a need a wide receiver. But trading a first-round pick for a player at the end of his rookie contract didn’t pass the sniff test. That was especially true when considering where the Cowboys’ record. At the time, their first-round pick was projected to be a top-15 pick, at worst.
But Cooper’s play has changed the entire direction of this franchise. He has saved jobs for some in the organization and brought the Cowboys back to relevancy. Cooper has been the biggest reason why the Cowboys have gone on a five-game winning streak. With three games left to play in the 2018 season, the Cowboys have essentially clinched the NFC East and will host a home playoff game in January. That is all possible due to Dallas’ win over the Eagles on Sunday in which Amari Cooper had arguably the single best game from a wide receiver this season.
Cooper saw 13 targets against the Eagles’ secondary and turned those targets into 10 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Philadelphia had no answer for Cooper and he was, without a doubt, the difference in the game. Today, we are going to look at his performance from Week 14 and how Cooper won Dallas the division.
For the most part, Cooper had a quiet first half. He caught just one pass as the Cowboys opted to keep the ball on the ground, controlling the clock. But his one catch was quite impressive and set the Cowboys up for another first-half field goal.
Before halftime, Cooper ran a corner route on third down and Prescott delivered a strike down the field. For most receivers, this ball may have been out of their catch radius. But for Cooper, he made this play look so easy, barely breaking his stride.
After halftime, things started to heat up for Cooper. Anytime Dallas needed a first down, they could turn to Cooper and know that he would make the play. Dallas ran slant routes to Cooper all game long and the Eagles secondary was prepared for it.
Yet, Philadelphia still couldn’t stop Cooper. He is just too big and quick for any defender to prevent him from getting to his spot. Take a look at this route by Cooper and how easily he was able to pick up the first down on 3rd and 12.
Cooper had the Eagles’ defensive backs on their heels all game long. They were never quite sure what to expect. On this play, cornerback Rasul Douglas was expecting the slant and tried to jump it. Cooper gave him a tiny head fake and Douglas took the bait. By the time Douglas recovered, Cooper was coming back inside on the dig route. It was just an incredible route by arguably the best route runner in the NFL.
What is so unique about Cooper is not only can he make these type of plays to move the chains, but he is also a weapon down the field. He is a game-breaker who can change the entire momentum of a game in on a single play.
Cooper did exactly that twice on Sunday. His first touchdown of the game came on a simple nine route in which he ran past the defender to make the reception. Size, speed and route running is a pretty dangerous combination. Take a look at the way he tracks this ball and gets into that extra gear at the end of the route to create separation.
On the next drive, Cooper did it again to the Eagles. He ran another nine route and blew by the defender, all while finding the ball in the air. Notice how Cooper works back to the ball to ensure that the defender can’t make a play. Once he secures the pass, he is off to the races. His speed is deceiving, at times. However, the Eagles quickly figured out just how dangerous he can be down the field.
Since joining the Cowboys in Week 9, no receiver has more yards (642) or receiving touchdowns (6) than Amari Cooper. The Cowboys have essentially acquired the best receiver in the league and inserted him into their offense. Not a bad midseason trade by Dallas.
With Cooper on the field, the Cowboys are absolutely a Super Bowl contender. They now have enough pieces in both the run game and in the passing game to challenge even the best defenses. And with the Cowboys gaining more confidence and momentum each week, they look like a team that could cause some problems come playoff time. Cooper has given life to an offense and to a team that seemingly had no hope. That, in itself, is worth a first-round pick.