On the final day of Week 7, the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders Came to an agreement that sent Amari Cooper to Dallas for a 2019 first round pick. The Raiders 2015 first round selection put himself on the map early in his career with a fantastic rookie campaign but the results as of late have been less than stellar. So what went wrong in Oakland and is it something that can be fixed in Dallas? Can the 24-year-old once “stud” wide-out show the potential that had everyone in silver and black so excited just three short years ago? Or Did Chuckie just pull a fast one ol’ Jerry Jones? I’m going to do my best to answer these questions and more in this FFStatistics Trade Reaction And Breakdown.
What Led To The Trade?
So what went wrong in Oakland is the first question? What made the proud franchise sour on a player they were so excited to have just a few years ago?
Career Season Logs
(2017 – 18 averaged out to 16 games played along with actual stats.)
2015 – 16 Games, Caught 72/130 Targets, 1070 Yards, 14.9 Yards per Rec. (Y/R), 8.23 Yards per Target (Y/T), 6 TD, 4.5 Rec. per Game (R/G), 8.12 Targets per Game (T/G), 55.4% Catch Rate, 1381 Air Yards (AY), 11.00 average Depth Of Target (aDOT), Pro Bowl, The WR 25
2016 – 16 Games, Caught 83/132 Yards, 1153 Yards, 13.9 Y/R, 8.73 Y/T, 5 TD, 5.2 R/G, 8.25 T/G, 62.9 Catch Rate, 1300 AY, 10.10 aDOT, Pro Bowl, The WR 12
*First Two Season Avg, – Catching 77.5/131 Targets, 1111.5 Yards, 14.34 Y/R, 8.48 Y/T, 5.5 TD, 4.84 R/G, 8.18 T/G, 59.2% Catch Rate
2017 – 14 Games, Caught 48/96 Targets, 680 Yards, 14.2 Y/R, 7.08 Y/T, 7 TD, 3.4 R/G, 6.86 T/G, 50% Catch Rate, 1109 AY, 11.60 aDOT, The WR 31
16 Game Pace – Caught 54.85/109.71 Targets, 777.14 Yards, 8 TD, 1267.42 AY
2018 – 6 Games, Caught 22/32 Targets, 280 Yards, 12.7 Y/R, 8.75 Y/T,1 TD, 3.7 R/G, 5.3 T/G, 68.8% Catch Rate, 342 AY, 11.00, The WR 62
16 Game Pace – Caught 58.67/85.33 Targets, 746.67 Yards, 2.67 TD, 912 AY
*Last Two Season 16 Game Pace Avg. – Catching 56.76/97.52 Targets, 761.9 Yards, 13.42 Y/R, 7.81 Y/T, 5.33 TD, 3.54 R/G, 6.09 T/G, 58.2% Catch Rate
As you can clearly see the production has definitely gone down over the last 3 full seasons and into 2018. Both in fantasy and reality. Why though? What happened to bring on these downward trends and is it as bad as it looks?
The Usage In 2018
So as you can see above in the heat map (Red = Least Targets, Green = Most Targets) Amari Cooper really isn’t seeing that much work. Most Noteworthy is the huge chunk of red. One of the things that he did so well was going deep. His talent hasn’t fallen off. He is still young and is still breaking ankles with his double moves. The speed hasn’t left him and the hands are catching the ball that at best rate of his young career. Also, he has been on the field no less than 79% of the snaps this year outside of his injury came in Week 6. But where there’s smoke there’s fire, right…?
2018 Game Log
- LA Rams/ Caught 1/3 Targets, 9 Yards
- Den Broncos/ Caught 10/10 Targets/ 116 Yards
- Mia Dolphins/ Caught 2/5 Targets/ 17 Yards
- Cle Browns/ Caught 8/12 Targets/ 128 Yards/ 1 TD
- LA Chargers/ Caught 1/1 Targets/ 10 Yards
- *Sea Seahawks/ Caught 0/1 Targets (Concussion early in the game.)
So as you see here in Cooper’s 2018 game log he has 2 games with more than 5 Targets (10/12). In both of these games, he had a huge production. Averaging nine Receptions on 11 Targets for 122 Yards and 5 TDs. This is a complete 180-degree turn from his other games (Not including Week 6 due to injury.). Furthermore, I looked back at his career game logs. Cooper has 14 total games with 10 or more Targets. In those games, Cooper is averaging catching 7.64/11.57 Targets, 115.36 Yards, .6 TDs per game. These numbers compare with any WR1 in the league. Julio, AB, OBJ, you name it. Pacing the numbers out to 16 games looks like this (122.28 Rec. 185.14 Targets, 1845.71 Yards, 9.6 TDs). Pretty impressive when he gets the chance.
In contrast, His games under 10 targets take a massive hit. With 38 such games, I broke it into two Categories. The first being Games with between six and nine Targets. There are 20 of these Game for Cooper. Finally, that leaves five Targets or less. Below are the totals and averages for all three categories.
10+ Targets – 14 Game Total (107 Rec./ 162 Targets/ 1616 Yards/ 8 TDs) – 14 Game Avg. (7.64 Rec./ 11.57 Targets/ 115.36 Y/G / .6 TDs)
6-9 Targets – 20 Game Total (84 Rec./ 157 Targets/ 1155 Yards/ 7 TDs) – 20 Game Avg. (4.2 Rec. 7.85 Targets/ 57.75 Y/G ./ .35 TDs)
5 Targets Or Less – 18 Game Total (34 Rec./ 61 Targets/ 412 Yards/ 4 TDs) – 18 Game Avg. (1.89 Rec./ 3.39 Targets/ 22.89 Yards, .22 TDs)
In my opinion, this is more of a Derek Carr issue than an Amari Cooper issue. Cooper needs to be fed the ball. Also, It’s not Like Carr wasn’t throwing either. With 233 attempts he ranks 14th in the league, only 33 attempts behind Eli Manning for fourth in the league.
Impact On The Raiders
So Oakland and Jon Gruden just traded away one of their youngest most athletic players in the middle of his fourth season. This generally isn’t something smarter people then myself would recommend but the deal is done assuming something crazy doesn’t happen. It does though currently have the Raiders picking three times in the first round next season. So what do the Raiders do now though? That is the question.
Well, first of all, they have an empty roster spot now. The report is that they will bring up Rookie seventh-round draft pick Marcell Ateman from the practice squad. A former Oklahoma State Cowboy that in one report last year was called the nations most undervalued receiver but we will have to wait and see if the raiders have any big plans for him.
The Skill Position Players
The person I think gets the biggest bump is Jordy Nelson simply because those targets, few as they were, have to go somewhere. Cooper was only demanding a 13.7% target share. Due to the nature of the WR1 position, this is unacceptable. At a minimum, this number should be at 20% if not higher. The top receiver does a lot to open up the rest of the offense. Well, Jordy might just get that kind of work now. Similarly to cooper, Nelson’s Target Share is below 14% for the season.
The Raiders Tight End Jared Cook has been commanding the biggest workload so far this year and it shouldn’t slow. A slight uptick in targets from his 18.02% Target Share. But again, when you don’t have the field stretching threat it will make things tougher.
More defenders being able to stay in the box now which could make things harder on the running game. Especially now that the bruising Back they have is going to be out around four weeks per the initial report.
As you can see in this heat map one of the issues for Cooper has been Carr’s unwillingness, or maybe inability to throw the ball deep. So much of Coopers ability to hurt the defense comes from the long ball to go with his route running. Now Carr doesn’t have this weapon and he was under-performing before. I don’t expect things to get better for the Raiders QB any time soon. Carr seems broken to me at this point.
Impact On The Cowboys
The First round pick Dallas had to give up does hurt. I’m sure there was a little attempt to negotiate by the Jones boys in Dallas but none the less, a first round pick it is. But think of it this way. If Cooper can be that field stretcher for the boys and produce like his first two seasons in Oakland then he can be the Cowboys top wideout for years to come. Wouldn’t you give up a first rounder for that in hindsight? I think I would.
(Above Dak Prescott Heatmap/ League Average Heatmap)
So as you can see above Prescott throws the ball deep about as much as Carr. Although this has been on the rise over the past few weeks and Dak has shown improvement as the passing game has opened up. If the defense can’t bank on short passes they have to start playing back. A deep threat can open up the whole field for the Cowboys QB. Both in the passing game and his rediscovered running game.
So 24.24% of the time Ezekiel Elliott rushes the ball he’s going against a loaded box ( 8+men in the box). Even with this, he is still second in the league in rushing one spot behind Todd Gurley who faces a loaded box only 9.03% of the time. Imagine what Zeke could do with that. Cooper won’t bring the rate down that much but it will definitely help. Anything that opens the Box and lets that man run is a good thing.
The Pass Catchers
Michael Gallup showed his first real signs of promise this year and week 7. With three receptions for 81 yards including a 49 yard TD. This is what the Cowboys have been waiting for. the rookie wide receiver finally flashed and had a good time going into the bye. The Boys coaches now have two weeks to think about his performance.
Now with Cooper, the coverage will transfer as Amari will demand the best corner or the most double teams each week. This will be the case for all the Dallas wide receivers. Cooper will draw the most attention from the defense leaving the rest of the wideouts with a little more freedom. Also if teams do slow down on loading the box to stop Zeke it will make life easier on the Dallas O-line. This should allow them to provide more time for Prescott to find the open man.
A New Sheriff In Town
So here I’m going to go over a few plays I think highlight what Cooper is capable of. The skills he displayed at the combine (Above) and in college that quickly translated to the Pros. The things that made him a first round pick and a two time Pro Bowler. Cooper is still young and hasn’t suffered a major injury in the league so he should still have these tricks in his bag.
Oak @ Ten, Week 12
4:34 in the fourth Qtr. 1st and 10 on the Raider 10, 16 Yards – Cooper is in the slot to the right of Carr here. He runs a short drag route over the middle and is hit in stride. Cooper hits his next year at this point. Two Titans defenders had a chance to make a tackle. The first defender takes a bad angle due to Cooper’s speed. The Cornerback dives at Cooper and takes out the second defender. Cooper continues for about 15 more yards.
Oak @ SD, Week 7
7:00 in the second Qtr. 3rd and 14 on the Raider 49, 44 Yards – Cooper is lined up to the right of the line out wide. This is a display of his ability to go up and get a contested catch. Carr gives this ball about all he has and Cooper goes up high to outplay a deep Chargers Safety for the ball. He is able to hold on as he slams to the turf.
1:12 in the second Qtr. 1st and 10 on the Raider 48, 52 Yards, TD – The Raiders are lined up in a Trips left formation (Three receivers on the same side, in this case on the left side.) with Cooper the widest. At the snap, he runs two yards, plants his foot and takes a couple steps back (A wide receiver screen). This play is well blocked but Cooper’s athletic ability was on full display here. Cooper sprints through the hole made and he is able to outrun the first pursuing tackler. He weaves through some traffic but it looks like a potential tackler has an angle and Cooper sticks his right foot in the ground and cuts hard to the left causing the defender to topple to the turf. Finally after all that Cooper scores!
Bal @ Oak, Week 2
13:20 in the third Qtr. 3rd and 8 on the Raider 32, 68 Yards, TD – Cooper runs and deep out route here. Carr is under heavy pressure but delivers the pass accurately. Cooper snags the pass and proceeds to easily run away from the defensive back for the TD.
Oak @ Den, Week 17
3:42 in the third Qtr. 1st and 10 on the Broncos 32, 32 Yards, TD – So Cooper line up outside on the left here. He runs a deep corner route where he fights through the coverage. Conner cook was in the game at QB and he lets the ball fly. Cooper brings the ball in with a defender all over him and escapes the tackle. Another Bronco defender attempts to push Cooper out to but Amari won’t be denied. He fights through another tackle attempt, stretches the ball out and scores before he steps out.
Hou @ Oak (Mexico City), Week 11
4:51 in the fourth Qtr. 1st and 10 at the Texans 35, 35 Yards, TD – On this play Cooper is in the slot to the left with three receivers to the right. He runs a short out route and Carr hit him. Cooper puts a foot in the ground and cuts upfield. Three defenders are in front of him (One fighting off a blocker.). Cooper puts his foot in the ground and cuts back to the middle of the field. As a result, the two defenders over pursue and the third can,t fight off the block quick enough. Cooper proceeds to outrun the defense to the end zone.
Oak @ T.B. Week 8
2:56 in the fourth Qtr. 1st and 10 on the Buccaneers 43, 31 Yards, TD – This one is just a straight go route. Cooper is lined up outside on the left. He takes an inside release and Carr lets it go. Cooper wins this 50/50 ball by leaping and high pointing the ball over the Cornerback.
Oak @ Phi, Week 16
13:11 in the second Qtr. 1st and 10 on the Raider 37, 63 Yards, TD – So on this play There are two wide receivers and a tight end to the left with Cooper alone wide to the right. At the snap, he acts like he is running a deep post. When the Cornerback commits to the post route Cooper plants and runs a go route. A great double move to display his route running ability gets him free for the wide open TD.
Oak @ K.C., Week 7
1:08 in the first Qtr. 2nd and 7 on the K.C. 45, 45 Yards, TD – This is a four WR set, two on each side. Cooper is in the slot to the left and runs a normal five-yard slant. Then he turns the afterburners and heads up the sideline. with a little help from a block and his speed cooper is able to walk in untouched.
1:47 in the second Qtr. 2nd and 20 on the Raider 20, 39 Yards – Cooper is alone on the left on this play with two receivers and an Up-Back to the opposite side. He runs a skinny post and there are three defenders around the middle of the field when Carr throws the ball. Right as Cooper brings this one in he takes a huge shot and is able to hold on to the ball. Most noteworthy about the play was the toughness shown.
Cle @ Oak, Week 4
9:12 in the first Qtr. 3rd and 6 on the Raider 29, 36 Yards – The Raiders are in a trips left formation with one Receiver to the right. Cooper is the farthest outside on the left. Another double move here from Cooper. He fakes the quick slant inside the cuts hard back to the left. As a result, the Cornerback gets completely flipped around and Amari is free until he is pushed out of bounds 36 Yards later.
So Can He Still Do It?
All of these above are just some examples of some of the things the still talented 24 year old can do with opportunities to get the ball in his hands. Some of the things that the Raiders weren’t willing to wait for anymore. It seems like there are things the Dallas Cowboys clearly have faith he is still capable of. The things that I think he is still capable of. Cooper won’t be a locked WR1 but I do have him as a low-end WR2/ WR3 with upside moving forward. The low volume passing offense in Dallas is the only thing that could hinder him. He will have the bye week to learn the offense and recover from his concussion and then we will see Dallas’ newest weapon. Remember though, this transition will take time…