Several times this offseason, we floated the idea of Amari Cooper lining up more in the slot. Not exclusively, mind you, but at least a good percentage of the time.
The reasoning behind that thinking was two-fold. First and foremost Cooper is quick, fast, and is a superb route runner — all ideal qualities for a slot receiver. This offseason the team added Cordarrelle Patterson, who embodies only one of those three qualities — he’s fast. If the team wanted to get Patterson on the field more, he is fairly limited to the outside, while Coop is versatile.
Even without factoring Patterson into the equation, Coop’s numbers in the slot suggest more time there would be beneficial, according to Pro Football Focus.
In Coop’s first two seasons he saw an average of just under 100 snaps in the slot or around 16%. And yet he averaged about 275 yards and 3 TD’s from there which was about 25% of his overall yardage and more than half his total touchdowns (11).
This season, the Raiders have moved him around quite a bit more than they did his first two seasons. He has already seen 70 snaps in the slot which is 20% of his snaps and the results have shown that the increase has been a good idea. He has 17 catches for 202 yards and a TD from that slot this season which is 44% of his catches and yards.
Coop’s prowess in the slot was stumbled upon this week by PFF’s Austin Gayle who latched on and ran with it in a series of tweets. First comparing Coop’ numbers to that of Raiders’ usual slot receiver, Seth Roberts. Note how similar they are in receptions, yards, and touchdowns despite the vast difference in routes run from the slot.
#Raiiders' Seth Roberts vs. Amari Cooper in the slot this season:— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) November 16, 2017
Roberts: 17 RECs, 200 yards & 1 TD on 211 routes
Cooper: 17 RECs, 202 yards & 1 TD on 70 routes
#Raiders WR Amari Cooper has averaged 2.88 yards per route run (YPRR) from the slot in his career, a mark that would rank T-No. 3 on PFF's all-time list for slot YPRR by starting slot receivers in a season.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) November 16, 2017
Wow, just wow.
Adding to this, Cooper averaged 6.71 yards per route run on his 66 routes from the slot in his final year at 'Bama. HOLY SMOKES. https://t.co/Zqrnb0G35q— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) November 16, 2017
#Raiders' Amari Cooper has brought in 59 of his 88 slot targets for 764 yards and seven touchdowns on just 265 slot routes in his NFL career, an average of 2.88 yards per route run.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) November 16, 2017
Only 2 WRs have done better on 250+ routes in a season in the PFF era (2006-Present).
So, what about against the Patriots this Sunday? Well, it seems the Patriots defense has a bit of a problem with covering the slot.
The Patriots have allowed a league-high 948 yards in slot coverage this season, 146 yards more than any other team and 424 yards more than the league average.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) November 17, 2017
There's no reason #Raiders' Amari Cooper shouldn't play in the slot on Sunday.
The Raiders have had a couple weeks to devise a plan to attack the Patriots. If they are able to successfully deploy Coop from the slot, we’ll know they have awoken to the same conclusions.