The Dallas Cowboys are looking to bounce back in 2020 after a disappointing 8-8 season that resulted in Jason Garrett being fired as head coach. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the season that’s set to kick off in less than two months. But few have been discussed as much as a revamped wide receiver unit after the Cowboys added first-round pick CeeDee Lamb to an already talented group formed by Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper.
NFL Network’s analyst Cynthia Frelund projected on a recent article each team’s most improved player in 2020. The answer for the Dallas Cowboys might surprise you, but a quick look into it explains everything. According to Frelund’s projection, Wide Receiver Amari Cooper will be the team’s most improved player this season.
At first, this answer sounds like a surprise. After all, Cooper had a good 2019 season. In Kellen Moore’s first year as offensive coordinator, the Cowboys had one of the most efficient passing attacks in the NFL. Cooper ended the year with 1,189 yards averaging 15.1 yards per catch.
That average per reception is great and is explained by Amari Cooper’s performance in the deep passing game.
“Per Next Gen Stats, Cooper already had a stellar 2019, posting a 133.5 passer rating on deep targets (highest in the NFL among those with a minimum of 15 deep targets) and catching 57.1 percent of them (second-highest in the NFL among those with a minimum of 15 deep targets).” – Cynthia Frelund on Amari Cooper.
Amari was able to post an 89.1 Pro Football Focus grade when facing top-10 coverage units last season. His level of play was reflected in Dak Prescott’s stats as well, which prove he played better when targeting his #1 wide receiver, averaging 8 yards per attempt.
Despite his production, Cooper suffered plenty of injuries that hurt one of his best skills in the game: route-running. At times, Amari was judged by analysts and fans as if he wasn’t dealing with important injuries but he was.
He should be considerably more healthy this season after an offseason’s rest, but don’t expect his health to be the only reason why he improves in 2020.
With Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb in the same offense, the Cowboys are expected to be one of the league’s best. This will mean better play from each of the three starting receivers as a result of defenses trying to account for every weapon at Prescott’s disposal.
And of course, there is the new coaching staff. Even though Kellen Moore improved the offense last year, it wasn’t as pass-happy as one would wish, especially on first down. Now, Moore will be working with HC Mike McCarthy, who has been known to be a pass-first coach.
By investing time and resources in learning about football analytics in 2019, McCarthy should help the Cowboys and Dak take the passing game to the next level.
Amari Cooper has changed the way we look at his career after he joined the Dallas Cowboys in the middle of the 2018 season. 2020 might just be his chance to position himself among the best at his job in the NFL.