ALAMEDA – Amari Cooper’s primary job is getting open, creating separation from those charged to blanket his every move. The Raiders receiver is reliant on another for everything after.
He can’t pass the ball to himself. He has to look open to do his job. After that, he needs targets and opportunity.
Cooper was open plenty against Baltimore. The ball still didn’t come his way. He had one eight-yard catch on two targets in that Ravens loss, but game tape showed Cooper was doing his job.
"I saw five or six times he was wide open, when he shook his guy and was open in space,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I would have loved to see that ball get delivered to him there. Not every play is designed to go to him. You can’t see everybody at one time. Sometimes you start with your read somewhere else and you don’t make it back for whatever reason. He was doing his part to create space and opportunity for the quarterback. We just missed him a couple of times.”
The Raiders must find Cooper. Right now, he’s lost.
The third-year pro would like to be found, especially after seven drops in the season’s first three weeks. Cooper isn’t one to demand the ball. We can do that for him. Cooper needs another chance. Several of them, in fact. He’s the Raiders’ most talented skill player, with elite routes run and an ability to earn big yards after the catch.
Most receivers would start screaming those facts to the press. That just isn’t Cooper style.
“I’m just going to keep being me,” Cooper said. “I’m just going to keep doing me and stay true to who I am. The ball will find me.”
That’s imperative, considering Cooper’s stats the season. He has 13 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. That’s in five games. Cooper has exceeded that sum in seven individual games. His production has been topped by 128 receivers, including three guys on his own team. That shouldn’t happen to a No. 1 receiver. Cooper’s the poster child for an offense struggling to do anything well. There’s plenty of talent, precious little production.
“He has run some really good routes, to be honest. He’s run some good routes,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “He has obviously put some on the ground that he’s wanted back. I’ve missed him a couple of times.
“I think everyone on our team is a little frustrated at something. That’s just one thing. The frustration, that part of it is what we have to get rid of. We just have to go out and let it loose. I don’t think there’s one thing where it’s like, hey, it’s this or it’s that that leads to that. I think if we can go out there and cut it loose and just trust what we have and what God gave us, I think we’ll be better going forward.”