Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper has established himself as one of the premier young talents at his position through his first three seasons in the league. However, he experienced a steep decline in his overall level of production on the field in the 2017 campaign
Cooper was largely a non-factor in the passing game throughout much of the season that has led to some uncertainty regarding his role in the offense in the first year under new head coach Jon Gruden. According to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, Gruden has made it clear that the 23-year-old will be one of the primary factors in the passing game moving forward:
“We think Cooper is going to be a great player,” Gruden told reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’ll be the focal point of our offense … the headliner in our offense.”
Gruden’s comments strongly reflect the Raiders’ belief that Cooper can bounce back from a disappointing 2017 season that saw him post career lows across the board with 48 receptions on only 56 targets for 680 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games played. The former Pro Bowler was essentially a non-factor for much of the year after posting fewer than 70 receiving yards in all but two games. Cooper also fell short of double-digit receiving yards five times and was held without a catch for the first time since his rookie season.
His drop in production wasn’t entirely due to a lack of consistency on the field, but rather his struggles with injuries. Cooper missed a game late in the regular season due to a sprained ankle and concussion while having to exit another contest early after re-injuring his ankle. This also marked the first time in his brief NFL career that has missed any action.
However, Cooper was able to put together a pair of 100-yard receiving performances. This was highlighted by arguably the best outing of his career in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs where he recorded 11 receptions for 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The remedy to this situation could be a full bill of health that may allow him to recapture his Pro Bowl form that saw him record at least 70 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in his first two seasons.
Ultimately, the renewed commitment to involve Cooper in the offensive game plan should help him rebound in a major way in the 2018 NFL season..