Jon Gruden has been singing the same tune about Amari Cooper from the get-go: Coop is going to be the top weapon in our aerial attack.
The boss man is intent on not letting the former No. 4 overall pick get cooped up like he was last year.
From the minute Gruden was brought back to captain the Oakland Raiders, he’s waxed poetic about No. 89. The consistent sentiment rang true again during an exclusive conference call between the head coach and season ticket holders.
Gruden said plain as day: Expect a lot of highlights from Cooper this coming season.
“That’s been one of our number one objectives, is to make No. 89 the main vein of our pass offense,” Gruden began. “We think he’s entering the prime of his career, and we think we’ve surrounded him with a couple of other great receivers, Martavis Bryant, who came over from Pittsburgh, can really rip the top off of a defense, and Jordy Nelson is, as you know, a proven commodity in this league, but if “Coop” can get healthy, and stay healthy, we expect big things from him. He’s going to be the main target I think in a lot of our passes.”
Gruden’s reinforcement of his want is both intriguing and infinitely awesome. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“It was cool,” Cooper said regarding Gruden’s desire. “Obviously as a receiver, you want to go out there and make plays for your team and win. So for him to say that, it really meant a lot to me. I’m just ready to come out here and work and prove that I deserve to have those opportunities.”
Cooper mentioned receivers have been lining up at a variety of spots along with going in motion pre-snap. Lining Cooper, Nelson, and Bryant all over the formations will make the Raiders much more dangerous. And putting Cooper in the slot — a spot he himself says is ideal for him — would be lethal.
But there is a reason for caution. We’ve heard similar before from prior head coaches. The undelivered promises for a maximized Cooper still ring hollow.
Yet, something feels different about Gruden’s Raiders. There’s optimism that the grand ideals will be executed and realized on the field. If nothing else, the biggest difference between the Jack Del Rio Cooper and Jon Gruden Cooper is this: Amari smiled and laughed — in front of cameras — after OTA No. 1. Kudos to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez for getting that out of Coop.
“He brings a lot of excitement to the team. He’s funny,” Cooper said of Gruden. “He makes us laugh a lot in the meeting rooms but he’s also really serious as well. So it’s been real cool so far.”
Let’s hit the Quick Slants as fast as the smile on Cooper’s face:
- Cooper is only 23 years old (he’ll be 24 June 17). Crazy right for a player entering his fourth year in the league, right?
- Gruden praised undrafted free agent Eddy Pineiro during the conference call. He noted Florida teammate and punter Johnny Townsend may be the deciding factor on who gets the kicking duties this year.
- Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie praised the addition of Derrick Johnson stating the veteran linebacker is going to boost the team’s pass defense tremendously.
- LSU defensive end Arden Key remains the lone draft pick to ink a pact with the Raiders.
- Gareon Conley carried over last year’s impressive camp performances to this season’s offseason activities. Two different coaching staffs saying positive things about the corner is solid.
- Don’t get worked up about Khalil Mack’s absence. Start biting your nails if the Raiders best defensive player misses camp in July and August.
- I’m still holding to this thought: Raiders fourth-round pick Nick Nelson had zero interceptions in his college career (but a ton of pass breakups). He’ll be the first DB with a pick this season for Oakland.
Quote Of Note:
“I’m old school, but that doesn’t mean I’m a fool. We’re going to use the data at our discretion. We’re going to use it in terms of tendencies, and in terms of our technology, and how we put our game plans together. We’re going to use technology for what it is, as a tool to help us win the game, but you will see some old school elements. You will see a fullback. You might even see a blocking tight end, and I don’t know why we wouldn’t have those things if we’re planning on handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch. You need these components to feature “The Beast,” and that’s what we’re doing to do.”
— Jon Gruden on embracing new technologies/concepts