A lot went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. They signed several veteran free agents before the season started, but nearly all were off of the roster but October. Former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s hybrid defensive scheme, despite a strong finish in the last month, gave up a franchise-record 473 points. Then there was the injury bug, that hit several key contributors, with the most noticeable being Dak Prescott.
This all led to a 6-10 record and the Cowboys missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, but there was one under the radar-bright spot. While CeeDee Lamb got most of the headlines at the wide receiver position, and rightfully so after shattering Bob Hayes’s franchise rookie record for receptions with 74, Amari Cooper was highly productive in the first year of his five-year, $100 million dollar deal he signed last March.
Cooper’s start to the 2020 season was outer-worldly. In the four full games he played with Prescott before his season-ending ankle injury in October, Cooper had 37 receptions for 401 yards which put him on pace for the second-most receptions all-time (148) and a franchise-record in receiving yards (1,604). Despite average quarterback play from Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and rookie Ben DiNucci, Cooper had one of the best seasons of his career.
Cooper finished with 1,114 yards. It was his second consecutive season with at least 1,100 yards (third of his career) and the third-highest total he’s ever produced. He set career highs in receptions (92) and catch percentage (70.8). Also, his four 100-yard games tied the second-most he’s ever had in one season.
What made his production so impressive was not only the quarterback carousel he had to deal with but he did so averaging a career-low 12.1 yards per catch.
Although Cooper’s name barely gets mentioned when the top receivers in the NFL are discussed, he’s been lights out since putting on a Cowboys uniform. In the nine games he played for the Cowboys in 2018 after being acquired via trade from the Las Vegas Raiders, he registered 53 receptions for 725 yards and six touchdowns, which contributed heavily to a 7-2 finish for Dallas and an NFC East title. Also, his 2,303 yards since 2019 rank sixth for all receivers, and when factoring in the 11 games he missed with Prescott in 2020 he could easily be at the top.
Most receiving yards (WRs) since 2019:
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 14, 2021
Cooper isn’t going to consistently take over games like Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, or Davante Adams. However, he continues to be one of the most productive players at the wide receiver position.