By any measure, this has not been a banner season for Cowboys WR Brandin Cooks. He has played seven of the Cowboys’ eight games and has averaged career-lows in targets (4.1 per game), receptions (2.4 per game) and yardage (23.6 per game).
Things seemed to bottom out for him in Week 9 when, despite Dak Prescott going for 374 yards passing, Cooks had 1 catch for 7 yards.
It was the only time during the game Cooks was targeted. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was peppered with questions about Cooks’ lack of production in his press conference and got “frustrated” by the queries, according to The Athletic.
Asked what happened to Cooks, McCarthy shot back, “Nothing happened. He was a big part of the production. We had a tremendous amount of production in the pass game and Brandin and all the guys are part of that. I get it, you want to see the ball spread out to everybody, which it was. Anytime a guy comes up short, you want to see him get more targets and more opportunities.”
McCarthy said that Cooks is a “pro” and focusing on individual numbers misses the point.
“I don’t play fantasy football,” McCarthy said. “We have game plans and I think it’s important and this is a challenge for guys because our system is built on making the quarterback successful. That’s the way this passing game is taught. It’s the way I’ve learned it. It’s the way it has always been the last 30 years.”
Cowboys’ Brandin Cooks Trade Not Panning Out
The Cowboys added Cooks in the offseason, hoping to give Prescott an additional target. He was traded to Dallas by the Texans for a fifth-round pick this year and a sixth-rounder next year, but Dallas had to take on the bulk of his remaining two-year, $40 million contract, with Houston eating about $6 million of the deal.
It was the fourth time in Cooks’ career he had been traded, tying a rather dubious NFL record.
Back in March, an anonymous source told Yahoo Sports that the frequency of trades was more a reflection of how good he is, rather than a bad thing—teams like the Cowboys want Cooks.
Part of the issue, that source told Yahoo, is that Cooks has been overpaid.
“He’s probably a No. 2 who has been paid as a No. 1 for most of his career,” the executive told Yahoo Sports. “He’s a complementary piece, one of [the] best in [the] NFL. But people who have acquired him likely viewed him as a primary threat which he isn’t.”
PFF Ranks Brandin Cooks 88th Among WRs
Still, for the Cowboys, Cooks has been almost no threat. He is fifth on the team in receptions, with 17, and fifth in receiving yards, with 165. For a player with six 1,000-yard receiving seasons to his credit, Cooks is on pace for a paltry 351 yards this season.
And despite McCarthy’s vigorous defense of Cooks, Pro Football Focus’s grading system—which is not based solely on fantasy football stats, either—has Cooks rated with a 59.0. That ranks just 88th among 118 wide receivers.
Throw on top of that this week the Cowboys signing WR Martavius Bryant, who had been suspended for five years before he was recently reinstated, and there are clear signs that Cooks has not lived up to his billing this year.
Maybe McCarthy is right and Cooks is a pro, but he is also not producing.