Jared Cook: How he takes the offense over the top

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Jared Cook /

Jared Cook is a solid NFL veteran tight end with one of the most clutch catches in NFL history. How does he take the Oakland Raiders over the top in 2017?

The NFL is an increasingly pass-first league. It’s almost impossible to orchestrate a deep playoff run without competent quarterback play and a passing game an offensive coordinator can lean on. Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is all about getting this team incrementally better with great offseason transactions. One player we’ll touch on today is veteran NFL tight end Jared Cook.

Cook is a nine-year NFL veteran out of South Carolina. He played his first for seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2009-12), the next three with the then St. Louis Rams (2013-15) and was a vibrant part of the Green Bay Packers passing game last season.

Though he isn’t a Pro Bowl tight end by any capacity, Cook is better than average in his position group. He is able to make around 40 catches a year for 500 yards and two touchdowns. Cook is immensely talented, but doesn’t always live up to the hype at each NFL destination. That being said, he’s perfect for the Raiders. How does he take this Raiders offense to the next level?

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While the defense should be better, this is still very much an offensive-first football team in Oakland. The offensive line is an elite unit in football and Derek Carr is already a no-doubt, top-10 quarterback in this league. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and recently acquired Cordarrelle Patterson offer an intriguing receiving trio for Carr and offensive coordinator Todd Downing to work with. Then there is Beast Mode in Oakland’s own Marshawn Lynch.

Adding Cook to the tight end group gives Carr another potential playmaker in the middle of the field. Cook and Lynch were acquired for their abilities to help sustain offensive drives and perform in the clutch.

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The Beast Quake run for Lynch against the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 NFC Playoffs is stuff of legend.

How Cook came up with that grab from Aaron Rodgers in the 2016 NFC Playoffs against the Dallas Cowboys cemented his legacy as a playoff hero in only one year in Green Bay.

The biggest reason McKenzie signed Cook is to take some of the pressure off Carr in the passing game. Carr may have completed 63.8 percent of his passes last year, but that was middle of the pack among NFL starting quarterbacks.

He led the league in drops at 37. Just adding Cook helps Carr’s completion percentage get to an excellent 65.0 percent.

By sustaining a drive or two a bit longer every game, that will yield dividends for the Raiders offense. Oakland won’t have to rely on the big splash play as often. Having method to the madness makes this team all the more formidable in the AFC.

This should be the best offense in the AFC West this year and right up there with the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC. Staying in the top-10 is obvious. This is probably a top-five offense already.

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Not saying this will be a 1998 Minnesota Vikings, 2013 Denver Broncos or 2016 Atlanta Falcons offense, but the pieces are definitely in place for Oakland to have the best offense in football in 2017. Signing Cook wasn’t overly glamorous, but he makes the entire offense better strictly by his arrival in the Bay Area this season.