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Cowboys news: What Dallas was thinking before the Amari Cooper trade and why they can stop defending it

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Amari Cooper's Breakout Game Shows Bold Trade Was Just the Move Cowboys Needed - Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
This isn't going to go down well with the Jerry critics.

There is a piece of truth about the Dallas Cowboys that needs to be acknowledged, and it will cause people great pain. So sit down, take a deep breath and prepare yourself.

That truth is this: Jerry Jones was right.

He was right to trade a first-rounder for wide receiver Amari Cooper. He was right in thinking that kind of draft capital was worth it. He was right to see what Cooper would do to the offense: stretch it, make it more explosive, make it easier on Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

Cooper was never known for this type of speed in Oakland. Perhaps it was because his quarterback there wasn't as good as Prescott, or maybe because the Raiders are rebuilding and have traded away all of their players. Whatever the reason, we are seeing a totally different Cooper.

What he's providing is symbiosis. Prescott has another weapon, Elliott has breathing room because of it and Cooper benefits from single coverage thanks to the attention the quarterback gets. This game was a perfect example: Elliott had 143 total yards and one touchdown, Prescott had a season-high 289 passing yards and Cooper had 180 yards on eight catches.

It's difficult for some to admit Jones is right about something, especially since he would have no problem telling you so himself.

Cooper, though, he got right. Very right.

Why Ed Werder says the Cowboys don’t need to be defensive about trading a first-round pick for Amari Cooper - Staff, SportsDay
Ed Werder joined the “JaM Session” on 103.3 to answer some questions, including how the Cowboys shouldn’t have to defend their decision to trade for Cooper.

On biggest changes Amari Cooper has made for the Cowboys:

”It’s kind of funny because, the Cowboys, Jerry [Jones] and Stephen [Jones] have been so defensive about the criticism they’ve received for making this trade, surrendering a first-round pick for Amari Cooper. Because at the trading deadline, there were nine players moved from one team to another and none of those players were traded for more than a third-round pick and Amari Cooper went for a one. ”The Cowboys have been pushing this narrative that ‘hey, all this success that we’re having in the run game. It’s because they’ve got a guy out of the box and they fear Amari Cooper. All these balls now that are going to Cole Beasley, that’s a result of Amari Cooper’s presence in the lineup.’ “So there was no tangible evidence that he was having the impact that they claimed. [Thursday], it was apparent all the difference that this guy could make. I think the thing that justifies the trade is the fact that this guy is 24 years old. While they haven’t extended his contract yet, it’s obvious you don’t give up a first-round pick to have a guy for a year and a half. He’s a big part of their future.”

Jerry Jones: Cowboys WR Amari Cooper ‘Looks Like He’s Making a Bid for His Cash’ - Tim Daniels, Bleacher Report
Cooper’s a talented receiver which is why the Raiders exercised his fifth-year option worth $13.9 million next season, but the Cowboys wouldn’t have traded for him if they didn’t plan on locking him up for the long haul.

Dallas will likely be interested in signing him to a long-term extension if he can continue to play at the level he’s displayed since the blockbuster deal, though. Cooper had five receptions for 58 yards and a score in his Cowboys debut against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 5. He then put up a combined nine grabs for 111 yards in victories over the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. Thursday’s win over Washington also moved Dallas (6-5) atop the NFC East standings. If he helps the team make a playoff push and plays well while there, it could bolster his value even more. So, while the Cowboys faced criticism for giving up a first-round pick in the 2019 draft for a wide receiver, the early returns suggest it was a worthwhile investment to improve the passing attack, and Jones has taken notice.

Extension talks between Amari Cooper, Cowboys expected to happen after season - Adam Schefter, ESPN
"Sources" told Schefter that the two sides do expect to begin talks after the season.

Considering the Cowboys surrendered a first-round pick for Cooper, some NFL executives thought they would have tried to lock him up in advance of the late-October trade. But the team felt that with Cooper's fifth-year option and then the franchise tag after that, there was no need.

Oakland picked up the fifth-year option that ties Cooper to Dallas for next season. Typically teams do deals with players well before that fifth-year option comes into play, but the Cowboys and Cooper have yet to have any talks regarding a new deal, despite some speculation that they have.

The sides are expected to commence contract talks after this season, a source said, and Dallas wants to pay Cooper. But there haven't been any inroads yet.

Amari Cooper has transformed the Cowboys offense - just check the stats - Michael Strawn, Blogging The Boys
Our own Michael Strawn provides some before and after numbers so you can really get a sense of the Amari-effect. The results are pretty astonishing.

Many (foolishly) compared the acquisition of Cooper to that of Roy Williams but we’ve already seen there’s nothing similar about the two.

Cooper is clearly the best receiver on the Cowboys; he’s clearly a legitimate #1 quality receiver and he’s clearly had a huge impact on the team’s fortunes. The stat where he’s really moved the needle is in the win column. Dallas has gone from a 3-4 record (43%) to a 3-1 record (75). In the process, the narrative around the Cowboys has gone from “when will Jason Garrett be fired” to “can this team win the NFC East and maybe make a run in the playoffs”? That’s an impact worth trading for.

The Amari Cooper Effect after four games - Terence Watson, The Landry Hat
Cooper has sparked the Cowboys receiving numbers, but his impact is helping his teammates numbers as well.

Before Cooper, Elliott was averaging almost 4.9 yards per carry and 586 yards rushing now with Cooper on the field Elliott is averaging 5.3 yards per carry with 455 rushing yards. A small jump in terms of numbers but it shows that teams are starting to shift their focus towards the Dallas Cowboys passing game by taking a safety out of the box more often.

But it’s not only Elliott that is benefiting from Cooper’s presence quarterback Dak Prescott is as well. Prescott’s completion percentage and yards per game have increased while his interception rate a decreased. Cooper’s play on the field seems to have given Prescott more confidence to throw with more anticipation, something that seemed to be non-existent over the first six weeks of the season. He is also giving Prescott wider lanes to throw into due to the coverage being thrown Cooper’s way.

It looks like Dak + Amari is turning about to be a tasty combo.

Amari Cooper breakout: How good can the Cowboys be? - Jori Epstein, USA Today
The addition of Cooper is the give that keeps on giving. Jori Epstein keeps a tally.

Let’s count the ways Dallas has improved with Cooper.

A Cowboys team averaging 20 points before Cooper’s arrival has averaged 26.7 the last three games. A team without consecutive wins in seven games now has strung together three straight. Ezekiel Elliott, who totaled 42 yards from scrimmage in Washington, tallied 143 (and two Salvation Army kettle celebrations) on Thanksgiving in his third-straight 100-yard rushing game.

Dallas’ defense is supplying momentum as regularly as its offense. The Cowboys held Adrian Peterson to 35 rushing yards after he gashed them for 99 last month. They intercepted three passes from Colt McCoy. “Those turnovers, you might say, made the difference in the game,” Jones said. Added cornerback Jourdan Lewis: “It’s amazing when everyone’s cohesive.”

It’s also fun, players said. They’re celebrating touchdowns, from Cooper lining up for a Markelle Fultz-like free throw (he credits his teammates for catching on despite no advance notice) to Elliott hoisting Prescott into a Salvation Army red kettle (“Once he had me in the air, I said I just have to own it now,” said Prescott, who also had no advance notice.)

Here are the top performing Cowboys players (according to PFF) for Thursdays win over the Redskins.

Cooper comfortable enough in Dallas to throw some shade - Kevin Saito, Golden Gate Sports
Cooper is a quite fella and not really the celebrating type, but he got caught up in the moment on Thursday.

The stark difference between Dallas Cooper and Oakland Cooper can probably be best summed up by one play – after scoring a long touchdown against Washington during the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving day blowout, Cooper engaged in the sort of touchdown celebration we never saw him partake in with the Raiders – shooting the football over the crossbar, a mocking “homage” to Philadelphia 76ers point guard Markelle Fultz.

Perhaps Cooper’s sudden burst of joy and personality has something to do with actually being involved in the passing game. In just four games with the Cowboys, Cooper has the same number of receptions (22) and the same number of targets (32) that he had in six games with the Raiders this season.

Anything that ruffles the feathers of Philly fans is okay in my book.

In case you don’t get the reference, the 76ers number one overall draft pick from a year ago, Markelle Fultz, has a particularly unorthodoxed style of shooting free throws.

And I think Amari nailed it.

Markelle Fultz reacts to Amari Cooper’s TD celebration mimicking his awful free throw attempt - Enrico Campitelli, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Of course, it’s all in good fun as Amari didn’t mean anything malicious by it.

“I don’t know him,” said Cooper, who made the shot. “I just thought it would be a cool thing to do. I don’t really watch the NBA like that until playoff time. But I’ve seen a couple highlights of him doing it.” “I really just thought about it on the fly during this game,” Cooper said. “I was like, ‘If I score, I’ll maybe do that.’ I couldn’t really think of anything else on the fly. ... I just made sure I shot the ball far enough to make the free throw.”

And Fultz was a good sport about it.

With some key games that have NFC playoff implication, what games will you be keeping an eye on today? 506 Sports has the TV schedule map all set for you.

Eagles Still Believe They Can Turn Around This Season, Even If You Don’t - Joseph Santoliquito, CBS Philly
I don’t say this very often, but here’s to the G-Men winning three in a row. Go Eli!

The Giants have won their last two and seem to be getting what coach Pat Shurmur has wanted.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are hoping to turn things around when the Giants visit Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday at 1 p.m. To many at the Linc on Sunday, this will be an exercise in playing out the season and seeing where pieces fit for 2019. But for the Eagles, they still cling to hope this season can turn around.

“Hopefully, you see a team fully committed to being the best team we can possibly be on Sunday and not worried about any of the outside noise and not worried about the other stuff that’s happened in the past,” Eagles Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz said. “You’ll see a team that’s totally focused on what’s ahead and not let our past define us by any means and just go out and play good football.”

Kliff Kingsbury should maybe be on fast track from Lubbock to Dallas - K.D. Drummond, CowboysWire
The Cowboys may or may not be looking for a new offensive coordinator next season. But the noble Drummond proposes a solution that could get Kingsbury to Dallas quickly:

After a 2018 season finale loss to Baylor, Kingsbury would have finished his career under .500 as a head coach if dismissed, but it likely wouldn’t be an impediment for him getting a prestigious gig next year on someone’s sideline. That’s because Kingsbury has forged a reputation as a sharp offensive mind, who simply may have been overmatched by the job of collegiate recruiting and being in charge of 100 players at a school with unrealistic expectations for their program.

If the Cowboys were smart, they’d seriously consider getting a leg up on the competition and bring Kingsbury on as soon as legally possible. Dallas won’t and can’t bring him on as coordinator midseason, but they can hire him as an offensive consultant for the rest of 2018.

That would present an opportunity for Jason Garrett and the front office to get a feel for Kingsbury and how he would address the shortcomings of the Dallas offense. If rumors the Cowboys strongly considered firing offensive coordinator Scott Linehan over the bye week are true, then there is a strong chance he will still be removed in the offseason. Getting a sample of what Kingsbury could be with the talent Dallas has would be a profoundly wise move by the team.

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