Nov 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper (14) catches a pass over Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye (34) during the first half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Wide receiver Riley Cooper has been a member of the Philadelphia Eagles organization since 2010. He had been a mediocre role player until last year. Led by first time starting quarterback Nick Foles, he took over the role of injured wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and thrived for the first time, receiving 47 receptions for 835 yards and 8 touchdowns. This season has been much more disappointing from Cooper, enough so that I would suggest the Eagles cut ties with the wide receiver.
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Cooper’s role as the number two wide receiver is a highly coveted role on any football team that is being wasted on him. Cooper’s size is the only thing he has going for him at this point in time. He has bad hands and poor speed, but perhaps worst of all he is a horrible route runner. Some great examples of this occurred this past Sunday when the Eagles took on the Houston Texans.
Nov 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) runs to the locker room after the victory against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
On Sunday the Eagles beat the Texans 31-21. With two different quarterbacks playing throughout the game it is no surprise that the Eagles had their ups and downs as a team. Throughout the game there were three interceptions thrown. One was thrown by Foles and two were thrown by backup quarterback Mark Sanchez. All three of the interceptions were due to the fault of the intended receiver. The first one was intended for Cooper, while the throw could have been better by Foles it was still clearly Coopers fault. Cooper did not turn his head to look for the ball, by the time he looked for the ball, the Texans defensive back A.J. Bouye already saw the ball and intercepted it. He then proceeded to return it for a touchdown.
The next interception was thrown by Mark Sanchez bounced out of rookie wide receiver Josh Huff‘s hands and into the hands of Jumal Rolle. The last interception, also thrown by Sanchez, was similar to Foles’ interception. It was another pass intended for Cooper. Yet again Cooper did not seem to be on the same page as his quarterback. Cooper did not turn to catch a pass that he could have easily caught. The frustration on Sanchez’s face is clear after this play. This is yet another example of Cooper’s incompetence and how it hurts the Eagles.
The Eagles have enough talent to be the best team in football, especially on offense. However, they seem to always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. Whether it be an incapability to finish their drives or a tendency to turn over the ball the Eagles need to make a change. I think that should start with Riley Cooper’s role.
Until he proves otherwise, Cooper’s snaps should become limited on offense. Josh Huff should get more of a role as the slot receiver and Jordan Matthews can take snaps on the outside where Cooper was. The Eagles also need to get their tight ends and running backs more involved in the passing game if they want to succeed. Especially when your quarterback is Mark Sanchez who thrives on short and medium passes as opposed to deep passes.
November 2, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) catches a 1-yard pass during the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Levi
In the long run the Eagles need to replace Riley Cooper in their offense. This could mean a replacement from two different outlets. In free agency the Eagles could go after one of the following to complement wide receiver Jeremy Maclin: Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, or even a veteran like Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne. They could also find a number one option in Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant or Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas should either of them become available.
Another option is in the draft, the Eagles could find another young receiver to grow alongside rookie Jordan Matthews and become the future of the Eagles. But that won’t be for a while, so for now we just need to hope that Cooper steps up or steps down.