Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘It’s My Fault’
When asked to assess the play of Riley Cooper through four games, Chip Kelly noted that statistically Cooper is ahead of where he was at this point last season. And that’s pretty much true. Cooper has 15 catches on 26 targets for 125 yards with no touchdowns. Last year at the quarter mark, Cooper had eight catches on 18 targets for 93 yards and a score.
The 27-year-old went on to have a breakout season, finishing with 47 grabs for 835 yards and eight TDs. In theory, this campaign could follow a similar trajectory. But there’s certainly no guarantee that it will. And the fact that this slow start is a notch above last year’s slow start doesn’t erase this fact: Cooper’s performance to date hasn’t been good enough, and he knows it.
“I’ve dropped two touchdowns this year. That’s bad,” said Cooper. “Everything else, I feel like I’ve been playing good football — in the blocking and getting open and all those things. I just have to make those two plays, and I think everybody harps on those two because they are so big and at such crucial moments and both touchdowns. You definitely can’t have that. You have to catch the ball, man. If you’re going to be a receiver you better catch the ball. That’s always been one of my strengths. I’m not the fastest, the quickest. Obviously I have to do something good and catching has been it. I definitely need to make some plays and I definitely can be better.”
The two would-be touchdowns were against Indianapolis and San Francisco, respectively. To Cooper’s point, he has only been charged with two drops on the season — they just came at really bad moments. The one last week occurred during the Eagles’ 15-play, 90-yard drive that stalled at the one-yard line. Nick Foles shot a beautiful pass into a very tight window and while it wasn’t an easy catch, Cooper conceded that it was one he has to make.
“There’s no excuses. The ball was placed perfect. Nick threw a perfect ball,” said Cooper. “I really feel like we would have won that game if I made that play.”
Cooper’s 125 receiving yards ranks 88th in the NFL and his 8.4 yards per reception 124th. He took off when Foles replaced Michael Vick at quarterback last season but to this point they have yet to get in sync. Through four games, the duo has connected on just three passes of 10 yards or more, per Pro Football Focus.
Cooper was dealing with an ankle injury this summer and therefor didn’t have a lot of reps with his QB. The thought is that the chemistry will improve as the season wears on.
The Eagles gave Cooper a five-year, $22.5 million contract ($8 million guaranteed) this offseason and cut DeSean Jackson. Combine those factors with the stats he put up last year, and you can see why the expectation level and degree of criticism has gone up.
“Yeah, and I want that. I definitely want that,” said Cooper. “And it’s my fault.”
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jeff McLane notes that McCoy and Darren Sproles haven’t been on the field together much to start.
When the Eagles traded for Darren Sproles, the ways in which the Eagles could utilize both he and LeSean McCoy on the field at the same time seemed endless. And yet, of the 269 plays run thus far this season, only 10 have included a Sproles-McCoy combo.
Six of the plays were passes that generated 74 yards (12.3 per attempt) and three first downs.
Four were rushes and produced only 2 yards. But the Eagles did score a touchdown against the Colts from the 1-yard line when Sproles was split in the slot and McCoy ran behind a two-tight-end set.
Reuben Frank provides a Brandon Boykin update.
If his injury was as bad as it looked, Brandon Boykin might not have played again this year.
Instead, Boykin returned to work on a full-time basis Thursday, just four days after suffering a scary-looking hamstring injury during the Eagles-49ers game in Santa Clara, Calif.
Boykin participated in all of practice and pronounced himself ready to play against the Rams Sunday.
Our predictions for Eagles-Rams.