Eagles' Cooper silences critics for a day

Posted: November 05, 2013

OAKLAND - Riley Cooper does smug very well. And yesterday, as he headed for the locker-room door after his five-catch, 139-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Eagles' 49-20 win over the Raiders, smug was radiating from every pore of the wide receiver's 6-3, 225-pound body.

"Y'all want to talk to me?" he said in mock surprise as a few reporters stopped him. "For what?"

Cooper will tell you he doesn't read the papers or listen to the radio talk shows or pay much attention to the negative comments about him on social media. But that's bull.

He knows what people have been saying and writing and tweeting about him this season. Big target, but too slow.

Can't get separation.

Another in a long line of Eagles draft busts.

If only the Eagles had a better complement to DeSean Jackson.

If only Jeremy Maclin hadn't gotten hurt.

Yesterday, he got another opportunity to tell his critics to take their opinions and shove them.

"That's the 'Coop' I know," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said after Cooper became the first Eagles receiver to catch three touchdown passes in a game since Kevin Curtis in 2007. "Some people wanted to throw him under the bus after the first couple of games because he hadn't caught as many balls as people wanted him to catch. But he's a big, physical target.

"The first touchdown [a 17-yarder on a go-route down the left sideline against rookie corner D.J. Hayden] was a great example of it. He muscled up and got physical and got by the guy. That's the one thing that Coop can do. When he's covered one-on-one by smaller defensive backs, he's not going to get knocked off [his route] and does a great job of catching the football.

"So I'm really happy with his production. He did a couple of things similar to what he did in the Tampa Bay game. We found him when he was covered one-on-one and he was real productive."

Cooper kick-started the Eagles' 542-yard, 49-point eruption when he took a bubble screen from Nick Foles on the their third play from scrimmage and motored 42 yards from his own 10 to the Oakland 48.

The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, including two by Cooper. He beat Hayden, the Raiders' rookie first-round pick, on both of them, first on the go-route and then on a 63-yard post pattern.

He would add a third touchdown in the third quarter when Foles found him in the end zone for a 5-yard score that put the Eagles up 49-13.

"First, you've got to give the credit to Nick," Cooper said of his pitch-and-catch partner who, like Cooper, had the game of his life, throwing for 406 yards and an NFL record-tying seven touchdowns.

"He played an outstanding game as you all know. Breaking records. Tying records. The guy played out of his mind. You've got to give all the credit to him. All I'm doing out there is running routes. And he put the ball right where it needed to be. That's it."

Cooper wasn't much of a pass-catching factor in the first five games after replacing the injured Maclin. He was targeted just 19 times and had eight receptions for a paltry 93 yards and one touchdown.

In the Eagles' 36-21, Week 5 win over the Giants, he was targeted just once and didn't have a catch.

But in the last four games, Cooper has been a big part of the offense. He has 17 catches for 360 yards and four touchdowns .

He caught four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay in Foles' first start after replacing injured Michael Vick.

Had six catches for 88 yards in the Eagles' Week 7 loss to the Cowboys. After catching just two passes for 13 yards in last week's loss to the Giants, he came up big yesterday.

After nine games, his five touchdown catches are second on the team to Jackson's six. He's averaging 18.1 yards per catch.

"We spread the ball around," said Foles, who had five different receivers catch at least three passes. "Looking at coverages, based on what plays we have on, I have confidence in every single one of our receivers, tight ends and running backs.

"[Cooper] is a big, physical guy who will go get the ball. He has a lot of speed and I don't think he gets a lot of credit for that. He's a fast guy and a great athlete."

In the last four games, Cooper has five receptions of 25 yards or more, including 47- and 63-yard TDs.

"I do know I love to go out and play football," Cooper said. "If it's a deep route, it's a deep route. If it's a short route, it's a short route. I love the game and everything about it. Whether it's blocking or catching balls."

Cooper clearly seems to have a rapport with Foles that he didn't have with Vick.

"I don't know what his secret was today," Cooper said of Foles. "But whatever it is, he needs to keep doing it. I'm proud of him.

"For me, it just feels good when you come into a game and you feel like you contributed. That's all I want. I want to contribute to win."

Cooper no doubt enjoyed the cross-country ride home after his role in the win. But there is another game next week, in Green Bay. And if he doesn't play well in that game, he knows the critics will be back.

"It was a good day for me," he said. "But with that being said, we have Green Bay next week.

"It wasn't redemption or anything. I went out and played the same football I always play. Everyone was doing the little things right."

DID YOU NOTICE?

* Patrick Chung, who was inactive 3 of the last 4 weeks with a shoulder injury, dressed yesterday, but rookie Earl Wolff started and played most of the game at free safety.

* Wolff had a nice play on the Raiders' first possession, coming clean on a blitz and batting a pass from 6-6 Terrell Pryor.

* Trent Cole got his first sack of the season on the Raiders' first possession.

* DeSean Jackson replaced Damaris Johnson as the punt returner. His 32-yard return in the second quarter was the Eagles' longest of the season.

* All of the 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) the Eagles played against the Raiders, particularly in the first half. They used it on seven of 10 plays on their first touchdown drive and five of eight plays on their second scoring drive.

* Early in the game, the Eagles occasionally flip-flopped their outside linebackers, having Cole line up on the left side and Connor Barwin on the right.

* The poor angle Brandon Boykin took in pursuit of Rod Streater on his 66-yard catch and run on the Raiders' first scoring drive.

* The Eagles activated Johnson, and he played a handful of plays at wide receiver. But they didn't use him to return either punts or kickoffs. Jackson handled punts, Boykin kickoffs.

* The Eagles blew containment on Terrelle Pryor's 35-yard, second-quarter run, then made matters worse by taking bad angles in pursuit.

* The terrific pass defense by Cary Williams on a deep ball to wide receiver Denarius Moore in the second quarter. Pryor had almost 5 seconds to throw, but Williams stayed with Moore and timed his jump perfectly to knock the ball away.

* The poor clock management by Chip Kelly on the Eagles' final possession of the first half. Foles threw three straight incompletions and the possession only ate up 50 seconds, allowing the Raiders to get the ball back with enough time to drive down the field and get three points on a 53-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal.

* The blown coverage by the Raiders on LeSean McCoy's 25-yard touchdown catch and run early in the third quarter. He went in motion to the right, but nobody picked him up.

* The difficulty Raiders defensive backs had staying on their feet. Rookie corner D.J. Hayden fell down on one of Riley Cooper's touchdown catches, and corner Mike Jenkins slipped and fell on DeSean Jackson's 46-yard touchdown catch.

BY THE NUMBERS

* Terrelle Pryor's 35-yard run in the second quarter was the first run longer than 24 yards against the Eagles this season.

* Trent Cole's first-quarter sack of Pryor was his first of the season. He has just 2 1/2 sacks in his last 22 starts.

* LeSean McCoy's third-quarter touchdown catch was his first receiving touchdown since Week 8 of the 2012 season against Atlanta.

* McCoy finished with 44 yards on 12 carries. In the last five games, he has rushed for just 309 yards on 90 carries, or 3.4 yards per carry. He has just one rushing touchdown in the last six games.

* The Eagles have held five straight opponents to 21 points or less. In their last five games, they've allowed just 18.6 points and 397.4 yards per game. In their first four games, they allowed 34.5 points and 447 yards per game.

* DeSean Jackson's 46-yard touchdown catch was his 26th career touchdown catch of 25-plus yards.

* Jackson had 150 receiving yards. It was the sixth 150-plus receiving game of his career, a franchise record. The Eagles are 14-5 in games in which Jackson has 100-plus receiving yards.

* The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first four possessions. It's the first time they've done that since Nov. 15, 2010, against Washington. Their 49 points were the most they scored since they put up 59 in that same game against the Redskins.

* Rookie tight end Zach Ertz had a career-high five catches and had his first NFL touchdown reception.

* Nick Foles has had a 100-plus passer rating in three of his last four starts. The one exception was the Dallas game. He had a 46.2 rating in that one.

* The Eagles converted all four

red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. It's the first time they've converted four or more red-zone opportunities since 2011.

* The Eagles had four touchdown drives of four plays or less. Thirteen of their 25 touchdown drives this season have been four plays or less.

* The Raiders' time of possession was 37:54. The Eagles' was 22:06. The Raiders ran 92 offensive plays, the Eagles just 57. In their last two games, the Eagles have run a total of 115 offensive plays.


On Twitter: @Pdomo

Email: pdomo@aol.com

Blog: eagletarian.com

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