The Dallas Cowboys have a shopping list of things that need to be cleaned up coming out of the bye week if they want to be considered serious contenders this season. Many of those problems are on the offensive side of the ball. The team needs to get better protection from the offensive line, more effective play-calling, and more impactful contributions from their receivers not named CeeDee Lamb. One of those receivers is Brandin Cooks.
Back in March, the Cowboys traded away a fifth-round pick this season as well as a sixth-round pick next year to the Houston Texans to acquire receiver Brandin Cooks. The veteran receiver had played for four different teams (Saints, Patriots, Rams, and Texans) over the course of nine years. In six of those seasons, Cooks compiled 1,000+ yards, including at least one of those seasons with each team he’s played for. Upon arriving at Dallas, many of us expected he would also achieve that feat with the Cowboys this season, but things haven’t gone as planned. His weekly production is as follows:
2023 game log
|2||Jets||Did Not Play|
Cooks is averaging just 21.8 yards per game. This is the lowest total of his career and it’s not even close. He’s on pace to finish with 348 receiving yards on the year. That’s ridiculously low for a guy who had a career average of 957 yards per season entering the season. He even averaged 968 yards during his three seasons on an offensively inept Houston team that finished 27th in the league in points scored in each of those three seasons. So, it’s easy to understand how fans are asking, where did all that production go?
Cooks was supposed to come to Dallas and bring those explosive plays with him. He’s been a sensational after-the-catch receiver over his career. Sadly, this year he’s only averaging 1.5 yards after the catch which is also a career worst. This is extremely disappointing considering he’s typically gaining over four yards per catch after contact. He’s just not a guy who is getting loose in space this year.
And it’s not just after the catch where he’s significantly declined. He’s averaging just 6.9 yards before the catch which is also a career-worst. Basically, the Cowboys are running short stuff with him and when he’s catching it, he’s going nowhere.
And speaking of catching it, Cooks holds a 56.5% catch percentage which is, you guessed it, a career-worst. His passer rating when thrown to him is just 43.8, significantly lower than any of his previous seasons. Oddly enough, three of the four interceptions Dak Prescott has thrown this season have come when he’s targeting Cooks.
And not that it’s any consolation, but Cooks isn’t the only former star receiver who is severely under-performing this season.
- Odell Beckham Jr. ($15 million) = 14 catches for 162 yards, no touchdowns
- DeAndre Hopkins ($13 million) = 27 catches for 376 yards, no touchdowns
- Brandin Cooks ($10 million) = 13 catches for 109 yards, one touchdown
It’s very concerning when Cooks is having career lows in just about every receiving metric out there. We’re not suggesting those picks were his fault (because they weren’t), but it’s clear that there’s just not very good chemistry between him and his quarterback. And it’s certainly fair to ask the question, has the now 30-year-old receiver lost a step?
Maybe. But it’s also possible that the Cowboys just haven’t figured out a way to get him involved enough in this offense. And to be fair to Cooks, he’s not the only one who has gone missing in action this season. We’ve seen quick glimpses of Michael Gallup and tight end Jake Ferguson, but they’ve also been rather quiet for most of the season. The Cowboys offense as a whole has been rather underwhelming.
The Cowboys must improve their passing game if they are expected to make any serious noise this year, and this means finding ways to utilize one of their top receiving talents. There is still time and there is still reason for hope, but it’s hard to imagine the Cowboys posing any real type of offensive threat if Cooks doesn’t start making a bigger splash in the passing game.