Our friend Levi Damien over at SB Nation’s Silver and Black Pride on the Oakland Raiders, was kind enough to answer a few questions about one of the new additions to the New Orleans Saints: TE Jared Cook.
Jared Cook had a career year in 2018, posting season bests across the board. Was there a sign this was coming in 2017, or did his 2018 performance come out of nowhere?
There were signs. They began in Green Bay in 2016. If you look at what he did over the final few games of the season for the Packers once he returned from his injury, he was playing at an elite level. He continued that play into the postseason, including the catch along the sideline against the Cowboys that earned the Packers a trip to the NFC Championship game and that playing winning an ESPY.
Cook may not have had the Pro Bowl numbers in 2017 that he did in 2018, but he still led the team in receiving, so he was clearly already Derek Carr’s favorite target. His jump in success in 2018 had a lot to do with Jon Gruden’s offense which features the tight end a lot.
Looking deeper into Cook’s 2018, he had three games with over 100 receiving yards (with one game almost at 200), but then 9 games under 33 receiving yards. What happened in those 9 games? Was it opposing defenses shutting him down, or just the gameplan dictating something else?
Every receiver in the Raiders’ offense was hot and cold last season. It was mainly because the game plan featured a different receiver each week depending on the match-up. Cook led the way, however, mainly because he was a mismatch more often than the others. That and with Amari Cooper being traded, and injuries plaguing the rest of the receiving corps, he was pretty much the only reliable target throughout the season.
Not to rag on Derek Carr, but Drew Brees is the most accurate passer in NFL history. How much better do you think Cook could be in New Orleans with a QB with pinpoint accuracy?
I wouldn’t read this question having a lot more to do with how great Brees is than how bad Derek Carr might be. I see any tight end being better with Brees throwing the ball than most offenses. Much like how Jimmy Graham had the best seasons of his career in New Orleans. I’m sure there are a few instances where Brees could get more out of Cook than Carr could.
After the trade of Amari Cooper, Cook was still able to haul in 4 of his 6 TDs and post two 100 yard games. Were opposing defenses putting their best cover guys on Cook at this point?
Honestly, I am not sure. The Raiders weren’t much of a threat overall. Teams knew they couldn’t go deep and their defense wasn’t going to stop them much, so it didn’t seem like opposing defenses changed up their usual game plans to focus on Cook as the top receiving threat, though perhaps some of them did.
What do you think of the Saints contract? 2 years, $15 million, with $8 million guaranteed (but only a $4 million cap hit in 2019). Was this an overpay, did the Saints get a bargain, or was it just right?
That seems about right, actually. He played at the level of a top five TE last year with no sign of slowing down and he was paid the 8th highest per season tight end salary.
Thank-you, for taking the time to talk with us! Saints fans, make sure you check out their work over at Silver and Black Pride. You can follow them on Twitter at @SilverBlakPride, Levi @LeviDamien, and of course, as always, you can follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.