In the last few games, Amari Cooper has been all but absent. Oakland’s star wide receiver has yet to look like a star at all in year three. He has just 118 yards and a score on 13 receptions through five games, but behind those numbers lies an even deeper story of struggles.
In the last three games alone, the former fourth-overall pick has put up totals of just six, eight, and nine yards a piece. Even worse, his Raiders have lost all three of those games, telling of just how much they rely on Cooper in their offense. The most commonly believed problem plaguing ‘Coop’ is that of drops, and the numbers back that up. He has been targeted 33 times this year, but has pulled in just 13 of those so far. His struggles become even more evident when looking at Sunday’s game results.
With their star quarterback, Derek Carr, out with an injury, one would think that the backup quarterback would be given quick and easy routes to their star wideout in order to keep the defense on their heels. Well, that was not the case as E.J. Manuel targeted Amari Cooper just twice the entire game despite trailing from wire-to-wire. It is unlikely that the coaching staff game planned against sending #89 the football, but just two targets over the course of a game is more than alarming.
Though he came into the season a little extra jacked, Cooper looks noticeably less sure-handed. With the woeful LA Chargers on tap this week, the Raiders should have ample opportunity to get the ball down field to the former Heisman runner-up. After making the playoffs for the first time in years last season, Oakland has suffered through three straight losses. Their young defense is partly to blame as they rank 25th in the league in total defense. However, with a star like Khalil Mack on that side of the ball they will only continue to improve.
Instead, the worries should lie with the offense. A fully loaded, veteran-lauded offensive attack should dominate the league, but through five games the Raiders’ O finds themselves ranked towards the bottom of the league in yards at 28th. Derek Carr, when healthy, is their unquestioned leader, but every quarterback needs their favorite target and Amari Cooper has failed to be there for his quarterback thus far. Thus, where Cooper goes, his offense tends to go with him.
Should they be to find their way back to the playoffs this year, Oakland needs to find their groove and make more big plays on offense. A winnable matchup with the Chargers should excite Raiders’ fans regardless of who takes the snaps at quarterback. The Bolts’ defense is even worse than Oakland’s, meaning there is no better time than now to get things back in motion. They’ll need Amari Cooper on the same page to do that.