The Philadelphia Eagles are heading into Sunday’s matchup against an extremely potent Denver Broncos offense led by QB Peyton Manning. Philadelphia’s defense is going to have their hands full trying to contain a veteran QB, who for 15 seasons, has been nearly unstoppable in the regular season.
That means when Michael Vick and the Eagles offense take the field, they need to take full advantage of every down and put 7’s on the board, and not settle for field goals.
This is where Riley Cooper needs to begin helping Vick, DeSean Jackson, and the rest of the Eagles offense. And he has a very good opportunity to make a statement against a Bronco’s secondary that ranks 30th in the league. To get an idea of just how bad Denver’s secondary is, Philadelphia’s secondary has been horrifying through three regular season games but still ranks better at 29th in the league.
Denver’s rush defense, however, is the top ranked defense in the league allowing an astonishingly low 43.3 yards per game. You can already bet that their focal point will be Eagles running back LeSean McCoy who has the Birds rushing attack ranked No. 1. And you can already bet that their primary focal point in the passing game is going to be DeSean Jackson.
Riley Cooper needs to be targeted in this upcoming game by QB Michael Vick, and when he is, he must deliver. With alternative threats on the field at the same time, there should be plenty of mismatch opportunities for Cooper.
Cooper was awarded the No. 2 receiver following Jeremy Maclin’s disappointing knee injury during training camp forcing him to miss the entire 2013 campaign. Since taking over as DeSean Jackson’s “compliment”, Eagles fans have seen character issues arise, but per Dan Hanzus of NFL.com‘s Around the League, Cooper is a player who might be “out of his depth”
According to Hanzus’s report (credits Philadelphia Inquirer in report), Eagles head coach Chip Kelly praises Cooper for doing an “unbelievable job” in the regular season.
“Riley’s done an unbelievable job,” Chip Kelly said Thursday, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Especially blocking on the perimeter, great red zone target for us.”
While it may be true that Cooper’s size allows him to be a physical blocker on the outside edge, the primary responsibility as a receiver is to catch the ball for positive yards. And so far Cooper hasn’t stepped up to the plate as a true No. 2.
Entering week four, Cooper has just one touchdown on six receptions (68 yards) despite being targeted 16 times. So where do those stats stack up on the Eagles roster?
Not anywhere close to rightfully being dubbed No.2.
Cooper ranks tied for third in receptions, behind DeSean Jackson (19), Jason Avant (11), and RB LeSean McCoy (6). He ranks fifth on the team for total receiving yards and YPC — adding tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz ahead of Cooper in both those statistical departments. And Cooper is catching just one out of every three passes thrown his direction.
The bottom line is if Cooper struggles against virtually one of the worst secondary’s in the league, Chip Kelly should start looking at alternative options.