As far as official statistics are concerned, Amari Cooper had 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. That’s undeniable.
Cooper’s impact measured far beyond this, though. He helps in the run game. He helps other playmakers get open. He helps in the overall disposition of the team as evidenced by his request to Dak Prescott when he was frustrated by a route he was assigned to run when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter.
It’s interesting because I actually had another stop route on that play and they were, if you were watching, really sitting on those stop routes. And I was like, this is ridiculous. So when I broke the huddle I was kind of mad and I was like, Dak come on. And he was just like, just run it bro. And I guess he thought about it again and he kind of signaled a go route and I was elated when he did that. And I took off, caught the ball, and scored.
Cooper scored a 75-yard touchdown as the Cowboys fought off their division rival and he continues to justify the first-round pick given up for him. While it’s certainly noteworthy that Cooper recognized the situation at hand and discussed it with Dak, there’s something else about the entire exchange that is extremely important.
Amari allowed Dak to lead him in this critical situation
After the game, I was talking to SB Nation Radio’s Patrick Creighton and he said something that made me think regarding this whole situation. Cooper was obviously frustrated with the situation, but after voicing his concern to Dak he allowed Dak to be the one to make the decision and execute it. That’s huge.
When people think of the stereotypical wide receiver they think of diva personalities (there have definitely been a lot throughout history). It wouldn’t exactly be shocking to see a receiver in the position that Cooper found himself in decide to buck the trend on his own, but that’s not who Amari Cooper is. He’s a disciplined football player that is going to do what helps the team the most. That’s exactly why he spoke up and ultimately fell in line before Dak signaled him.
The subtle audible: @rjochoa reported on Amari Cooper's comments post game that Dak Prescott had given him a hand signal to run the 9 route on his 75-yard touchdown reception. pic.twitter.com/DG2EtIST8D— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) December 10, 2018
Dak Prescott is a captain for the Cowboys and while there’s a lot of narrative that can go into the definition of that, the reality is that it’s a voted-on title. There’s a democracy involved in choosing captains and Dak Prescott wears the badge for the second season in a row which means he’s a leader on this team. That much is objectively true.
Prescott is also the quarterback of the Cowboys which brings with it some inherent leadership expectations and responsibilities. He obviously calls the offensive plays in the huddle and is the only person who can audible at the line of scrimmage. And while the fact that he trusted Cooper enough to do so says so much about both he and Cooper as far as football intelligence goes, the fact that it was made possible screams that their partnership chemistry is outstanding.
Amari Cooper is a dream player for the Jason Garrett-led Dallas Cowboys. He’s firm in his convictions, but he doesn’t upset the status quo. He knows who he is, who Dak is, who everyone is, and he’s more than willing to do his part and then some to better the overall machine as a whole. It’s so rare to find these types of players in general and the Cowboys managed to do it when they needed it most.