It’s that old cliché again — the backup cornerback is the most popular guy in town. There are few complaints about the performance of the Kansas City Chiefs defense around KC, but the play of CB Marcus Cooper can’t be ignored. Some people think if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, but no matter how great a team is playing there is always room for improvement.
So would Cooper be an improvement over current starter Sean Smith? It’s a tough question to answer because Smith is also having a good season, but his play in the last couple of games has not been up to par. Andre Johnson and Josh Gordon got the better of Smith in Kansas City’s last two contests, and both of them had third-string QBs who were making their first starts of the season throwing to them.
Cooper, on the other hand, has been on fire with his only major blemish coming on a 39-yard TD reception from Terrelle Pryor to Denarius Moore. He made up for that mistake in the fourth quarter with a big interception when the Oakland Raiders were trying to even up the score and it led to Kansas City putting the game out of reach for good. The week before against the Tennessee Titans, Cooper was the game MVP with a fumble recovery for a TD and another game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter.
On top of the aforementioned big plays, Cooper has defended a team-high 11 passes and compiled 15 tackles in limited action thus far. He is the unquestioned Rookie of the Year for the Chiefs, which is strange considering he wasn’t even drafted by the team. John Dorsey made a great decision to pick him up when the San Francisco 49ers cut him in the preseason.
Even with the starters healthy Cooper has seen an increased role, but from what he’s shown when given the opportunity it’s hard to argue that he should ever be a spectator when the defense is on the field. Again, Smith is definitely no slouch at corner, but the play of Cooper has given defensive coordinator Bob Sutton something to think about. Too many good cornerbacks is a problem every team would love to have — except the 49ers, I guess.