Philadelphia Eagles’ Riley Cooper Primed For Critical Role Against Dallas Cowboys
The Philadelphia Eagles’ most lackluster performance of the season came in a 17-3 home defeat by the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7. One offensive player performed well: Riley Cooper. He secured six of his seven targets for 88 yards that day.
Since that stellar performance, the Cowboys’ defense has played progressively worse to the point that it was recently called the worst in league history. However, one Dallas defender continues to have a productive year: Brandon Carr. While Calvin Johnson and Pierre Garçon used their size advantage to post 100-plus-yard games when matched up against Carr, he has played a key role in holding Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, Demaryius Thomas and Jimmy Graham under 65 yards at various points throughout the season. During the Eagles-Cowboys Week 7 contest, Carr had his best game of the year as he held DeSean Jackson to three catches on eight targets for 21 yards, including two pass breakups.
While Carr has experienced periods of success this year, the other defensive backs in the Cowboys’ secondary have struggled mightily. Per footballoutsiders.com, Dallas ranks 26th in the league defending their opponent’s second wide receiver, which is slated to be none other than Riley Cooper this Sunday.
To compound this matchup problem for the Cowboys, Cooper has been one of the more productive second receivers in the NFL in 2013. He received a top-40 wide receiver grade from profootballfocus.com, which charts all player snaps and measures both pass-catching and run-blocking effectiveness. Despite the high grade, Riley Cooper has cooled off since the middle of the season. During Weeks 6 through 10, he averaged 92 receiving yards per week. However, from Week 11 through 16, he has averaged 48 yards per week.
While his productivity has declined in recent weeks, he did secure all three targets during the Eagles’ blowout of the Chicago Bears last Sunday night. If Riley Cooper can continue this efficiency, he will likely see numerous looks from Nick Foles this weekend. His ability to secure his targets and pivot up-field to compile yards after the catch will surely be an essential part of the Eagles’ offensive game plan.