2013 has been a year full of ups and downs for cornerback Marcus Cooper. During the preseason, he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers, but was then immediately picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs who gave him a pretty sizable role out of the gate.
Cooper took full advantage of his playing time with an incredible start through his first nine games. Late interceptions against the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans and a forced fumble against the Buffalo Bills were a big part of all three of those victories for Kansas City. A common strategy from opposing quarterbacks has been to pick on Cooper, which he made them pay for initially, but was burned big-time during the Chiefs’ three-game losing streak.
Cooper was the biggest weakness in Kansas City’s worst defensive performances, which also happened to be their only three losses. Chiefs’ fans were very happy to see him have a great bounce-back game against the Washington Redskins last Sunday in which he added three defended passes to his team-high mark of 18.
As badly as Cooper was scorched in Weeks 11-13, it’s safe to believe in him again. The rookie out of Rutgers has definitely done more good than bad for Kansas City, and his slump coincides with a related drought the Chiefs were experiencing. During Cooper’s rough patch, the Kansas City pass rush was virtually nonexistent, giving opposing quarterbacks a ridiculous amount of time to find receivers and make uncontested throws.
It’s no coincidence that Cooper returned to form at the same time as the pass rush, which compiled six sacks against the Redskins. Considering Kansas City made that happen without leading sack man Justin Houston (who’s estimated return is either this week or the next), the future looks bright for the pass rush and the big impact it has on the Chiefs’ pass coverage.