Why Amari Cooper trade is working out better for Cowboys than Golden Tate deal for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA – The Cowboys were widely criticized when they sent a first-round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders in return for wide receiver Amari Cooper.
But look who's laughing now.
In five games with Dallas – the last four wins – Cooper has been among the top wide receivers in the NFL, ranking among the top 10 in receptions with 30 (seventh), yards with 424 (eighth), first downs with 23 (fourth) and touchdowns with three (eighth).
That, in turn, has opened up the entire offense, making running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott that much more effective. Elliott, who's second in the NFL with 1,150 yards rushing, has topped 100 yards in three of the last four games, beginning with 151 yards against the Eagles on Nov. 11. He did so just three times in the first eight games.
"I just think it helps everybody when you add another weapon to your arsenal," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "It gives the defenses that much more to deal with. I think any time you have a really good group of players, they all benefit from each other."
So, why hasn't that been the case with the Eagles and Golden Tate, whom they acquired Oct. 30 from the Detroit Lions? Since the trade, Nelson Agholor's stats have suffered as have Alshon Jeffery's.
Tate, meanwhile, had his best game last Monday against Washington with seven catches for 85 yards. That could be a sign that the Eagles are figuring it out.
But Tate doesn't spread the field like Cooper does, and the Cowboys didn't really have a good receiver this season after Dez Bryant was released and Jason Witten retired.
For the Eagles, Tate is a slot receiver, and the Eagles already have guys like that in Agholor and Jordan Matthews.
"I think every day that passes that he's here, I think everybody gets more comfortable," Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "I think that's only natural ... He makes us better. We're excited to have him here and what he can do here this next month."
Of course, not everyone is on board the Amari Cooper train. One former Oakland Raider, Phil Villapiano, called Cooper "a punk" and "a little sissy" after Cooper said he wasn't happy in Jon Gruden's offense with the Raiders.
It was reminiscent of other insults hurled the Cowboys' way this week. And yes, the Cowboys had a reaction to Kamu Grugier-Hill's comment that they "always choke."
Rookie inspires Cowboys dominating 'D'
Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has been a force ever since he replaced Sean Lee in the starting lineup after Lee suffered a hamstring injury. The Eagles saw this in the first meeting, when Vander Esch intercepted Carson Wentz in the first quarter. It was his first career INT, and it prompted one teammate to say, "The kid is a beast." Dallas news.com has the story.
That would stand to reason because Vander Esch howls like one on the field. That's why his teammates call him "The Wolf Hunter," as USA Today explains.
But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones already said that Lee will regain his starting job when he's ready to return, which could be Sunday against the Eagles. Vander Esch said he's fine with that, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram details.
Either way, the Cowboys defense has been dominant this season. The Washington Post shows just how dominant. The Cowboys are second in points allowed per game (18.6), fourth in rushing yards per game (91.3) and fifth in total yards (318.2). They showed this by limiting the Saints to just 10 points last Thursday in the Cowboys' 13-10 win.
Around the NFC East
Of course, Mark Sanchez was asked about the infamous "butt-fumble" from when he was with the Jets in 2012. Sanchez was ready with a response. “Listen, who cares?” Sanchez said. “It’s just one play and move on. I’d prefer to remember the good stuff.”
Washington was also heavily criticized for not signing Colin Kaepernick, in favor of Sanchez and Josh Johnson, who last threw a pass in an NFL game in 2011. Head coach Jay Gruden said Kaepernick didn't fit "the skill set" they were looking for.
The latest criticism came from Richard Sherman of the 49ers. “You start to see stuff like that, and it’s almost like teams are purposely making it obvious that they’re freezing him out,” Sherman said.
After a 1-7 start, the Giants are 3-1. But their recent turnaround could have ramifications for 2019, too, as the New York Post details.
Has safety Landon Collins played his last game for the Giants after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery? As an aside, if Collins does reach free agency, the Eagles should look into signing him, even if he's still rehabbing in the spring.
Around the NFL
NFL players are just as superstitious as athletes in other sports. And that includes the Giants' Eli Manning wearing the same T-shirt underneath his uniform in every game, and Eagles center Jason Kelce listening to Christmas music before every game – even in September. The New York Times has the story.
Trey Burton will be forever known in Eagles' lore for throwing the "Philly Special" pass to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl. Burton's new team, the Bears, wanted him to do it again in a game this season. But as Burton explained in the Chicago Tribune, a mental block prevented him from doing it. So Tarik Cohen threw it last Sunday against the Giants.
Want to go to the Buffalo Bills game for free on Sunday, and get paid to do it? All you have to do is spend four hours shoveling snow at New Era Field.
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Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.