In 2013, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper had a bit of a coming out party. He surprised everyone catching 47 passes for 835 yards. With another year in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense, what should everyone expect from Cooper in 2014?
If you’re expecting the same or better numbers from Cooper, you might be disappointed by the end of the season. If you took away three specific plays last season (one against the Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in which Cooper had a fortuitous break go his way for a significant gain, he wouldn’t have had a single 100-yard game (the reason we must discount these plays when forecasting for the following season is because they’re unreliable and can’t be consistently repeated).
Also helping Cooper out was having DeSean Jackson lining up at wide receiver for the Eagles. He won’t be there this season. In 2013, Jackson had the highest wide receiver rating in the entire NFL according to PFF, the seventh lowest drop rate, the second highest catch rate of passes of 20 yards or more and the fourth highest yards per pass route run. Losing a threat like that means more double teams for Cooper and more safety help over the top. With a receiver like Jackson, defenses were always making sure there was safety help for whatever cornerback was covering him which would leave Riley with some open field.
This season, he will have Jeremy Maclin lining up on the other side of the field. Maclin missed the entire 2013 campaign with a torn ACL. Defenses are going to make sure Maclin proves himself before they give him any extra coverage. All of that extra attention is going to be on Cooper to start the season and if Maclin shows he can’t get open consistently with single coverage, that extra coverage is going to stay on Cooper.
Riley Cooper had a very respectable 2013 season. If he repeats that performance in 2014, I would be very surprised. Losing DeSean Jackson will certainly affect Cooper and how teams are able to cover him now. Also, Cooper had considerable chunk-yardage on plays that aren’t consistently repeatable and could have very well been interceptions rather than receptions. Kelly does things on offense that are changing the game, but I don’t know if he can do something to get Cooper the same kind of numbers he had in 2013.