There are always players who don't get the credit they deserve. Usually they're guys whose work isn't easily seen in the box score, like offensive linemen or a defensive end who's awesome against the run. But despite being one of the league's most-productive receivers since coming to Dallas, Amari Cooper still isn't getting his due respect from many in Cowboys Nation.
Dallas traded their 2019 1st-round pick to add Cooper and give a much-needed boost to their offense after dumping Dez Bryant the previous offseason. In just nine games in 2018, barely over half a season, Amari posted 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate despite having changed teams in the middle of the year.
In 2019, Cooper put up career-highs of 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns on 79 catches. He returned to the Pro Bowl as well, his fourth invite in just five seasons.
Last year, despite only having Dak Prescott for five weeks and everything else bad that happened in 2020, Amari still 92 catches for 1,114 yards and five scores. Even with Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb having strong years in their own rights, Cooper was still 10 among all NFL receivers in catches and 12th in yards.
Despite this fantastic work over the last 2.5 seasons as a Cowboy, Cooper still has critics among some onlookers. You'll often see shots about his lack of enthusiasm on the field or that he doesn't step up in big games.
That second comment is easily disproven if you just look at the man's gamelogs. Some of his biggest days have come against Philadelphia and Washington, or in showdowns with NFC contenders like Green Bay or Minnesota in 2019.
In Dallas' 2018 playoff win over Seattle, Amari had seven catches for 106 yards. He only had 65 yards the following week against the Rams, on a day when nothing went well for the Cowboys, but did score a touchdown in the playoff elimination.
Criticism of Cooper seems to be more about that first issue, his lack of on-field enthusiasm and celebratory antics. After having Dez Bryant and Terrell Owens as WR1 for many years before Amari, and perhaps even the shadow of Michael Irving still lingering, some Cowboys fans seem to think that's how a top WR should always behave.
Without question, we enjoy the flash and the fun that exuberant receivers and other offensive players can bring. I wrote recently about how Ezekiel Elliott can help the team with more of the charisma and character we saw in his rookie season.
But not everyone can be that guy, and we certainly don't want them to force it. There's room for the quiet killers too and that's exactly who Amari Cooper is.
Amari's flash in his ankle-breaking routes. His fun is helping his team win, which hopefully the rest of the Cowboys' roster will be in a better position to do in 2021.
Don't get on the guy for not making elaborate 1st-down gestures, throwing up any X's, or otherwise showing off between plays. Amari Cooper has more then delivered on that 1st-round pick and a big contract, earning his keep every single week since joining the Cowboys. He's easily been a top-five player on this roster and perhaps the best ball-handling offensive player the last three years.
We all kill a certain linebacker for all of his celebration without substance. Amari is the opposite and we should love and respect him for it.