Fresh off a well-timed bye week, the Cowboys are assumed to be refreshed and ready to go as the season grows older and the days get colder. The Cowboys currently sit at 4-2 with four really good wins and two really disheartening losses. The fact that that is true is really interesting.
The Cowboys have played just over a third of their games thus far and only one of them has truly felt or resembled what a typical NFL matchup is supposed to look like. With that up-and-down feeling that this season has provided, the same feeling can be applied to individual performances on this team as well.
Moves have been made with an eye toward improvement, and while it's too early to count any of it out just yet, some moves, more than others, haven't quite panned out how we all thought they would.
A player like Brandin Cooks is interesting to look at so far. While the numbers and the involvement haven't been there just yet, it almost feels like the breakout is on the horizon after his Week 6 showing and there is no time like the present to make it happen.
Can Week 8 be Brandin Cooks’ breakout game?
Thus far, Cooks’ numbers on the season have been nothing to write home about. Through five games Cooks has only tallied 13 receptions, 109 receiving yards, and one touchdown. While you look at those numbers and understand that is not what you want to see out of your WR2, if you look at the last time the Cowboys were on the field and what Cooks was able to do then, it can provide a bit of hope.
While the game was not a stat sheet stuffer, his four receptions, 36 yards, and one touchdown against the Chargers on Monday Night Football felt like a peek into what may be the start of something. Again, we understand that the numbers won’t wow anyone, but can one touchdown be enough to spark a change? The Cowboys offense sure hopes so.
The facts are the Cowboys are not getting much from their receiving weapons outside of CeeDee Lamb. While that sounds familiar to what the Cowboys had last season, the talent on the roster is better now and helps provide a feeling that despite the lack of production, the talent to turn it around is currently there to do so.
To this point, head coach and current play-caller, Mike McCarthy, has not used Cooks to his strength. Cooks is a notorious field stretcher who has racked up at least one 1,000 yards receiving season everywhere he's gone. It's clear it's not the player, but the play calls, that are hampering this team right now.
Thanks to John for sharing Brandin Cooks' route distribution.— Cowboys Stats & Graphics (@CowboysStats) October 24, 2023
1. In DAL, Cooks has been sent on fewer out-routes in favor of more in-breaking hitches and largely toothless, decoy go routes.
2. Hitches account for 18% of Cooks routes and 29% of his targets. https://t.co/HS3X3CR6W9
There are signs of hope, however. The Cowboys took more shots downfield in Week 6 and the feeling is that as the season goes on, they are more likely to loosen it up and let the ball fly a little more. It may not be a spread-it-out and let it go offense, but more of calculated risks that allow your playmakers such as Cooks to make plays.
At the end of the day, if not now, then when? The Cowboys had a week off, a chance to review what has and hasn't worked for them so far, and it is clear to see that their usage of Cooks has not been up to snuff. If they neglect to make adjustments to that, it could be one of the biggest mistakes of the season.
We should expect they will make the necessary changes to get a dynamic pass catcher more involved as he looks to be growing more comfortable in his surroundings by the day because if not, it’ll be more of the same we are all used too.