It’s been an on again, off again relationship in games between Derek Carr and Amari Cooper this season. Through five games, he has gone from being a non-factor, to having a big game, to being a non-factor again several times. In arguably their biggest game of the season thus far, it was the wrong week to be a non-factor again.
Coop had one catch on one target for 10 yards in this game. That’s even worse than his one catch, 9-yard game in the opener because he was at least targeted three times in that game. For the guy who is supposed to be the Raiders’ number one receiver, that can be frustrating.
“Yeah, especially in a loss because you feel like you can do more to help your team win,” Coop said when I asked him if he was frustrated with having just one target.
Carr said the Chargers were “definitely” trying to take Coop out of the game, adding that they put their best cover guy, Casey Heyward, on him to ensure Coop was a non-factor. Gruden said the same.
“We called his number,” said Gruden of Coop. “Just because he isn’t targeted, doesn’t mean we aren’t trying. He was the primary several times today and he would tell you that. But sometimes the opposition tries to take away some guys and you have to go other places.”
Coop’s games this season have gone like this:
1 catch, 9 yards vs Rams
10 catches, 116 yards vs Broncos
2 catches, 17 yards vs Dolphins
8 catches, 128 yards, 1 TD vs Browns
1 catch, 10 yards vs Chargers
There were several times in those two previous poor outings that it was noted Coop was open and Carr didn’t go his way. He said there were times he was open and didn’t see the ball, but added “Not every play.” Coop downplayed it a little bit, saying “everybody gets open”. Well, no one expects him to get open EVERY play. But when he is, he should probably see the ball. We’ll have to wait to look at the tape of this one to see.
Going from top receiver to a disappearing act is not what you expect from your top receiver, even if the defense is focused on taking him out of the game. In each of those two games he was taken away, another of the Raiders receivers was able to have a big day. First Jared Cook, then Jordy Nelson. And last week, of course, the entire offense exploded with Carr throwing for over 500 yards, Coop, and Cook having over 100 yards receiving, and Marshawn Lynch running for over 100 yards.
This week the best numbers went to Martavis Bryant who had 3 catches for 91 yards. He also had a costly fumble that led to a touchdown late in the first half.
Marshawn had just 31 yards on 9 carries, and Derek Carr threw another interception in the end zone.
That is all the sign of a wildly inconsistent offense that can’t be depended upon from a week to week basis.
“This game is about consistency,” said Cooper. “If you’re not consistent enough, you’re not going to win enough.”
The Raiders lost another one. Their worst loss of the season when they needed it the most. Already sitting at 1-3 and going against a division rival. And they put up just three points when the game was still in reach, and lose 26-10 to fall to 1-4.
It was about a lot more than just taking Coop out of the game. That’s just a symptom of the overall problem that is plaguing this Raiders offense that can’t seem to get in a rhythm and get out of its own way.