Dallas Cowboys fans can ignore Rex Ryan’s naive remarks about Amari Cooper. At just twenty-five, the team’s number one receiver has earned his newest contract.
Let’s just come out and say it Dallas Cowboys fans: Rey Ryan’s lifetime coaching record is 61-66 (below .500). On his upper right arm is a tattoo of his wife in what used to be a Mark Sanchez’s New York Jets’ jersey. Ryan’s hand-picked quarterback retired last year with a career record of 37-36, a 56.6 completion percentage, and a QB rating of 73.2.
On HBO’s Hard Knocks in 2010, Ryan boasted about how much he loved being right. At the time, he was excited about having signed former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Yet, Ryan and the Jets released Danny Woodhead the same season.
Woodhead was signed by the New England Patriots. He rushed for 547 yards and a career-high five rushing touchdowns on just 97 carries that same season (5.2 yards per carry). Does Sexy Rexy also like being wrong? It seems like he does.
Earlier this month, Ryan attacked Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper on ESPN’s Get Up with disrespectful and unwarranted criticism. His judgment of Cooper has a similar appearance to those he employed to judge his own players as a head coach, gut feeling and popular opinion over real performance indications.
Ryan referred to Cooper, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, as a turd. While coaching Sanchez, did Sexy Rexy ever call the Jets quarterback a turd while he was posting a 33-29 win-loss record with a 68 to 69 touchdown-interception ratio?
During his misguided rant, Ryan characterized Cooper as the biggest disappearing act in the NFL. The biggest? Sexy Rexy claimed that Coop disappears on the road and against top corners. And in a similarly odd obsession, as he had with Sanchez, Ryan went on to assert that quarterback Dak Prescott is the reason the Cowboys were number one in the league this past season.
When Cooper joined Dallas during the 2018 season, the team had a 3-4 record. America’s Team was desperate for a number one receiver and had been for too long. Amari stepped right in and delivered. Coop finished the 2018 season with more than 1,000 receiving yards, even after having less than 20 yards in four out of six games playing for the Oakland Raiders.
In 2019, Amari amassed 1,189 receiving yards, passing the1,000-yard mark for the fourth season in his young five-year career. He finished eighth in the NFL for total yards receiving yards, yet he had the third-fewest receptions of the top-ten receivers. How could anyone associate Amari’s performance with being the biggest disappearing act in the NFL? Best corners? Away games?
In 2019, Cooper’s reception percentage (ratio of catches to targets) for the season was 66.4. Amari’s percentage rose to 72.5 against teams in the top 50 percent of NFL defenses. His performance improved against stronger defenses.
Cooper’s statistics did suffer in away games. But Sexy Rexy earns no cool points for shouting it out. The fella who Ryan assigns all credit for the Cowboys offensive success, Dak Prescott, posted lower just about everything on the road.
Prescott’s completion percentage dropped from 66.4 to 63.9, and his total yards dropped by nearly 350 in away games. His yards per game average also fell from 327 to 285, and his touchdowns were cut in half. Dak’s QB rating toppled from 108.7 to 91.4.
One of the few Prescott statistics that increased on the road, shockingly, was the number of pass attempts. Dak was given more opportunities on the road despite declining performance. Shouldn’t we expect Cooper’s stats to be affected when his quarterback’s performance declines? In any case, the following three games are probably the root source of Rexy’s criticism:
1. Dallas Cowboys @ New York Jets, Week 6, October 13
Cooper was targeted only twice. He caught one pass for three yards. We can assume any a player has a less than stellar day against the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, Ryan will be dogging that player?
2. Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots, Week 12, November 24
Cooper was targeted twice and had zero receptions. On Cooper’s first target, Dak Prescott threw the ball way short on an out route and cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted his pass. Amari caught a pass on a crossing route for a large gain late in the third quarter, but the play was called back because of an offensive line penalty.
He also had a fourth-down reception overturned in the fourth quarter after he was forced to dive after a poor throw in heavy traffic. (Incidentally, running back Tony Pollard was open for a screen that could have earned a first down.)
3. Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles, Week 16, December 22
Cooper had 12 targets and only four receptions. Here, I recommend you take advantage of the NFL’s complimentary access to Game Pass and watch the game. While good receivers can be expected to make difficult catches, it seems unfair to expect them to make them on nearly every play.
If not for fellow wide receiver Michael Gallup’s Velcro hip in this game, balls thrown behind him would have annihilated Dak’s completion percentage. I’m mostly impressed by how Coop kept his composure during this game. I counted three balls underthrown to Amari, three behind him, and two high and beyond his reach.
Amari Cooper cannot be judged by gut feelings. He’s certainly not “the biggest disappearing act in the NFL.” In fact, he’s a 25-year-old four-time Pro Bowl receiver. He’s just entering his prime. Guys like that are supposed to get big contracts. And that’s what the Dallas Cowboys gave him. Don’t coop the Coop.