Thoughts On A Connor Cook Hype Train

Jan 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) passes in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) passes in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Matt McGloin hype train got out of hand before Week 17 even started. The Raiders don’t need Connor Cook to be Derek Carr, so let’s not make that mistake twice.

If you weren’t there, then you couldn’t have felt it. This was not a lay down and take a look at the next season type of game for the Denver Broncos. This was a team taking the buzzsaw formation and inviting the Matt McGloin led Raiders into its clutches, and promptly spitting out the shell of a 12-3 team that ended up with Connor Cook at the helm before the day was over.

Any optimism that McGloin could be the light at the end of the tunnel vanished in various ways. The Broncos dared him to scan the field with his 6’1″ frame and complete passes against two All-Pro caliber cornerbacks, and succeeded in not allowing it.

At all.

The Broncos stacked the box, stopped the run, and when Amari Cooper finally got Talib on a beautiful double move, McGloin sailed the ball over and seemingly dragged the entire offense directly into the turf with it.

The offense under Connor Cook? Well, it seemed to actually catch a rhythm. He missed a couple (as he should have), he threw an interception (which was probably expected), and he connected for two brilliant passes to both if his top wide receivers (one for a TD, which wasn’t expected?). The tape does not lie, and Cook’s performance was night and day compared to McGloin’s.

Should we make the choice and divvy up all of our cautiously optimistic eggs and put them into the Connor Cook basket? I think we can — and I say this with the forethought that a season like this cannot vanish as easily as last week’s offense did. There have been too many beautiful moments in this revitalized season that will lay at waste should a playoff victory not come this week.

In all honesty, what NFL analyst or sports pundit hasn’t been enamored with the Raiders this season? You’d be hard pressed to find one. And who has been on the Connor Cook hype train from day one? I mean, no one has, because this team has been driven to win after win by an MVP caliber player.

And that’s fine. Slow that hype train. Halt that ‘ish before it even gets going. What the kid won’t know won’t hurt him. That includes a dynamic Romeo Crennel led defense, and that includes some “screw it” situations where there may be a tight window, but throw it up to your two 1,000 yard receivers and let them make a play, similar to how Carr has made his living to date.

No one knows what this kid can do, because no one has seen him play save for the 32 snaps he took last weekend. Is Crennel just going to pull up old Michigan State tape and put in some double time and try to see how his play in college will fit into Musgrave’s scheme? Do so. He knows the run game will be heavily featured, but how does Cook feed off that and let that advance into his play action ability? What throw is he not able to make consistently? What if you gamble on something and come up short, and the kid has the ability you thought he didn’t?

Crennel is no dummy, and this is not a bash on his intellect, it’s just a look at how do you prepare for a player you know nothing about?

Judging from his play on Sunday, seeing him step up in the pocket, use his 6’4″ lengthy frame to zip the ball into some tight windows while still facing six and seven man blitzes was impressive. His accuracy was shaky as you could expect, but what makes me beg the question has to be situational.

Is it more difficult to step into a game and go out there and try and make plays, or is it in your benefit to know your starting throughout the week? There are ways to make both work for and against a player, and Cook will see both sides of that situation this week.

Look, it is simply unfair to expect big numbers from a guy like Cook. Houston’s D is stingy with sticky corners and great pass rushers, and the lack of first-team reps will cause some confusion. However, this Raiders roster is loaded with talent, and they will HAVE to give Cook some gimmes for them to win.

Jalen Richard has to make his money and take a punt back for a TD. Mack or Irvin or somebody gets a strip-sack and gives him a short field to work with. And the field position battle will of course be a major factor.

What we need to take into consideration is that McKenzie moved up in the draft to take Cook for his ability, and the focal of point of the team this week is to believe in that ability that got Cook to where he is now. The team has no choice but to rally around him, and shake the fogginess off from the Derek Carr injury.

I feel Cook gives us a better chance to win than McGloin did, injury or not, but I don’t expect him to carry the Raiders all the way to the Super Bowl. If that happens, it will be because of their defense and coaching staff.

Stay on the Cook hype train if you’d like, just don’t let it leave the station. Have him get the job done — that’s all. Let the Khalil Mack hype train continue its roaring ascent up the football ranks. Rev up that defensive train to the max. Where’s the Latavius Murray train when you need it? Let any and all of those leave the station, but by any means, Raider Nation, let the kid breathe.

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