Put simply, Riley Cooper has been a disappointment so far as a complement to DeSean Jackson at wide receiver. The Philadelphia Eagles were hoping that he would step up in replacing the fallen Jeremy Maclin. This was a big reason why they kept him on the roster after the controversy he caused in the offseason by using a racial slur.
So far, it hasn’t panned out. Cooper has struggled to get open against man coverage, and was really blanketed last Thursday night when he had a ton of 1-on-1 matchups., thanks to the focus on Jackson on the other side of the field. Cooper needs to take advantage of these match ups and use his size and athleticism against smaller corners.
One aspect he has thrived in is blocking. He has graded out as one of the better blocking wide receivers in the league. This is a must in a Chip Kelly offense, which features bubble screens and lots of read option. Cooper must be better than a role player though for this offense to get off the ground, especially when defenses key in on Jackson and star running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy.
This Sunday will be another big test for Cooper. Depending on if Champ Bailey plays Cooper will potentially be matched up with old teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Rodgers-Cromartie has thrived so far with the Denver Broncos, something we didn’t see much of when he was an Eagle; he still isn’t the surest of tacklers though. Cooper needs to use his size and strength to over power Rodgers-Cromartie in short yardage and red zone situations, as the productivity of this offense depends on it.
We knew that defenses would start to load up defenders on both McCoy and Jackson. Starting Sunday in Denver, it is the complementary players turns to step up in this offense.