In one game, the Oakland Raiders got a vastly different version of Connor Cook. Decisive, in command and confident. That is something the former Michigan State Spartan was not during his short time in Silver & Black.
The label of a wasted draft pick was warded off — until the next game. Moments in the NFL are fleeting. Not only will Cook need to turn up the heat from here on in, head coach Jon Gruden’s expectations have multiplied exponentially.
“We made it hard on him today, put him in some tough positions,” Gruden said after practice on Monday. “You don’t get a chance to read your clippings and celebrate your press conferences for long in this business, so, hopefully, he got his eyes opened today and can learn from this film. Because he missed a couple throws we think he can hit.”
Gruden said “think” but what he meant is “knows”.
Under the tutelage of Gruden, offensive coordinator Greg Olson and quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, is this version of Cook going to stick? (I’d be remiss not to say: Olson’s reputation as a QB friendly coach is legit).
It was one game — a preseason one at that. But we were all transported back in time via the flux capacitor. Against the Lions, we saw the Cook that commanded and sparked the Spartan offense.
To his credit, the 25-year-old is dialed in.
“I look at it as a competition no matter what. Every single day is a competition. My main goal and my main objective is to go out there and win every day. I want to win every period and be the best version of myself I can be each and every day.”
Where has this Cook been?
“I liked the look in his eyes,” Gruden said of Cook. “I thought he was confident and in control.”
I’m not jumping out on a limb when I say this: This version of Cook is a byproduct of having a coaching staff that not only believes in him but tells it straight. There’s a definitive plan in place. No ambiguity, no confusion.
“He’s just a great communicator in the meeting room, on the field, hanging around the weight room,” Cook said referring to Gruden. “He’s a great teacher of the game, and he’s making sure we’re all in sync together.”
Gruden is transparent in what he expects from Cook.
Let’s see if the third-year signal caller can make it crystal clear he’s the best option as the backup quarterback.