New England Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks gained 100 receiving yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars and their #1 rated passing defense in the NFL and chipped in 68 extra yards via defensive pass interference. It was an incredible game for Cooks, but some aren’t seeing it that way.
Cooks needs to “catch the ball when it counts.” He “just needs to not drop every perfect pass over his shoulder,” especially “from the GOAT [Tom Brady].” The Patriots need to “fix [Cooks] this offseason.”
Let’s stop this narrative before it takes a stronger hold. Cooks is in the middle of one of the best seasons by a Patriots receiver under Bill Belichick. Full stop. No caveats.
“Brandin’s been good for us all year,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “[He’s] a really good football player, good route runner, tough, good hands, smart guy, does a lot of different things. We put him in a lot of different positions and he’s able to execute a lot of different things.
“He had some big plays for us today; no question. He hit a couple of comebacks and then he ran the deep route. [Jalen] Ramsey grabbed him. It was a big field position swing there, too. Throwing in front, throwing behind – Tom and Brandin did a good job on that. It was really well executed, a number of those plays. Those are tough throws against [A.J.] Bouye and Ramsey. Those are two good corners.”
In eighteen games in 2017, Cooks has 1,214 receiving yards, 40 rushing yards, and 209 yards drawn from defensive pass interference. Add in 7 touchdowns, which are valued at 17.8 yards each score by advanced metrics, and Cooks has provided the Patriots with 1,588 adjusted yards of offense, the 11th best season under Belichick.
The best season is 2007 Randy Moss with 2,100 adjusted yards thanks to his 24 touchdowns and 1,601 yards from scrimmage, with 2011 Rob Gronkowski (1,971) and 2011 Wes Welker (1,966) in second and third- that 2011 Patriots offense was ridiculous- with 2012 Welker (1,773) and 2015 Gronkowski (1,676) rounding out the top five.
It should be noted at this point that Cooks is averaging 88.2 adjusted yards per game and needs to provide 88 adjusted yards of offense in the Super Bowl to have one of the five best seasons by a Patriots receiver. That’s how incredible Cooks has been in 2017.
The players currently in Cooks’ sights are 2001 Troy Brown (1,661), 2014 Gronkowski (1,614), 2007 Welker (1,613), 2016 Julian Edelman (1,602), and 2009 Moss (1,595).
Just behind Cooks in the rankings are 2014 Edelman (1,514), 2009 Welker (1,476), and 2017 Gronkowski (1,448), who will have a chance of his own to climb into the top 10 with a strong Super Bowl performance (he’s on pace to finish 11th under Belichick).
But Cooks has received a lot of undue criticism for his performance in 2017 because some are expecting him to be a mix of 2007 Randy Moss as a deep threat and 2011 Wes Welker as a chain mover. That, Mr. Strawman, is a completely unrealistic expectation to hold.
He’s a great and unique receiver in his own right and he’s responsible for stepping up and carrying the Patriots offense in the AFC Championship game. He’s writing his name alongside Troy Brown and Wes Welker and Julian Edelman in the records book. If he can help the Patriots win a Super Bowl, hopefully everyone will start to recognize his contributions, too.