The criticism of Amari Cooper is ridiculous

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18: Amari Cooper
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18: Amari Cooper /

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper has received plenty of criticism for fading down the stretch, but that criticism is ridiculous.

When Amari Cooper was selected with the 4th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, fans were mostly happy because Derek Carr finally had a legitimate no. 1 receiver.

The plan was Cooper would only come in and contribute right away, but he was also going to add a dynamic to the offense that the Raiders had not had for quite some time. From straight line speed to his immaculate route running, Coop was the complete package from head to toe.

Starting out his rookie year in 2015, Amari put the entire league on notice by putting up 45 receptions for 653 yards and 4 touchdowns through the first eight games. He was pace for 90 receptions for 1,306 yards and 8 touchdowns, which would have quickly raised Cooper’s status to nearly elite levels.

For some odd reason, Cooper’s numbers as well as overall play seemed to tail off over the last eight games. He ended up finishing his rookie season with 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns. Despite the somewhat disappointing second half of the season, Coop was the first ever Raiders rookie to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season and was rewarded as a Pro Bowl alternate.

It was also later revealed that Cooper was playing through a bum shoulder. His shoulder was lingering so badly, he couldn’t even finish the Week 16 contest against the San Diego Chargers. After this was revealed, most fans gave him a pass, as well as they should have.

Cooper’s expectations were raised going into 2016, and there would be no excuse not to take the next step forward in his development. Although Coop had better overall numbers at 83 receptions for 1,153 yards and 4 touchdowns, he once again faded down the final stretch of the season.

At this point, some in Raider Nation were starting to question whether he was a true #1 receiver. In my opinion, that question should never ever be brought up. The criticism that Cooper has been facing is asinine.

For one, let’s all take into account that Cooper is only two seasons into his career and he just turned 23 years old. He is still younger than most rookies that are in the 2017 draft class. In terms of football years, you could make the argument that he is still learning how much he can actually do.

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Let’s also take note of the Raiders offense. Through the first eight games, the offense put up a total of 3,213 yards versus putting up 2,760 in the final eight games. We also have to mention that the offensive yards in terms of passing also was down by about 511 yards over the final eight games. So to say that Coop was the only one that faded down the stretch could be argued as a fallacy.

Let’s be real — Cooper was not the only great offensive weapon the Raiders had in 2016. The team also had the 6th ranked rushing attack, giving them a balanced offense. They also had one of the best #2 receivers in the entire NFL in Michael Crabtree, who was going to take some targets away from Coop. In retrospect, Cooper was not going to demand the same amount of targets that an Odell Beckham or an Antonio Brown was going to receive because the Raiders had a much more fluid balance to their offense.

Ted Nguyen of Just Blog Baby, did an exceptional breakdown of why Amari faded down the stretch in the video below.

In terms of X’s and O’s, Ted covered pretty much every point you can think of in a masterful way. On top of some of the points I made, it is absolutely ridiculous to mention Amari Cooper in a negative light.

For the 2017 season, I am fully expecting Amari to take another step forward, and plant his name among the best wide receivers in the entire NFL.