Just when you think it’s safe to enjoy a beer or five on a random quarantine Thursday afternoon, Bill O’Brien strikes again!
Brandin Cooks lands in Houston in hopes of bouncing back from a poor year with the LA Rams. This will be the expeditious receiver’s third team in four years, and he will arrive just in time for the position-needy Texans. Inadequate trade grades and deep dives into the contract situations between the Texans and any of the players that have recently departed or been acquired will not be discussed at length here. There are enough columns in circulation that will eagerly burn GM Bill O’Brien at the stake for his daring antics this off-season.
Instead of weighing DeAndre Hopkins‘ production against that of Cooks or his contract to David Johnson’s, the new Texans offense should be viewed as a whole and separate from what the “couch GM” would have done. The monetary numbers and what if’s don’t matter much once the season commences and a team starts winning.
For example, there was an uproar in 2018 when BOB sent left tackle Duane Brown to Seattle for little compensation. The Texans went 11-5 in 2018 with no Brown and one of the worst offensive lines in football. In 2019 they let Jadeveon Clowney go for what many will call peanuts, again the Texans won their division last season with a 10-6 record and a playoff game to boot. At the moment Clowney still hasn’t found a market in free agency and Jacob Martin (SEA LB HOU got in return) finished the season nicely.
So as opposed to proclaiming the obvious (but he’s no Hopkins) here’s the positive spin on Brandin Cooks joining the Texans:
People say that it kills. It does. One thing we know is Bill O’Brien loves it. He didn’t enjoy it much in a playoff loss in Kansas City last season, but he experienced it first hand. Bringing in Cooks adds a bit of KC’s vertically thrilling offense to the Texans.
40 yard dash times of new-look Texans Receivers:
–Kenny Stills 4.38
-Brandin Cooks 4.33
-Will Fuller 4.32
For O’Brien, it truly goes back to drafting Will Fuller over Josh Doctson back in 2016, speed is an element he has always tried to implement in Houston. We don’t have to look too far back in Texan’s history to see that the offense isn’t the same when they are missing the receiver that can blow the top off a defense.
Deshaun Watson’s splits without the rapid Will Fuller paint the picture of an offense that struggles without a field stretcher. That is why the addition of Kenny Still was so vital a year ago. His presence helped to keep the Texans afloat when Fuller missed time and he contributed immediately. The Texans are hoping Cooks can do the same and then some.
*not the drug
Just touched on in the section above, Cooks will provide much-needed depth at the receiver position for Houston. You wouldn’t know it because Hopkins was such a reliable staple of the offense, but Houston has been relatively shallow at the position since Andre Johnson retired.
Aside from the arrival of Will Fuller, there has been virtually no one to help relieve pressure. More recently the Texans traded mid-season for the likes of Demaryius Thomas or claimed available players like Bruce Ellington as a stop-gap for injuries at the position. Tell me if you recognize these names:
-Steven Mitchell Jr
Yea didn’t think so. Just three seasons ago names like Braxton Miller and Sammie Coates failed in the system. Soon players like DeAndre Carter and Keke Coutee may fall to the wide-receiver wayside. Brandin Cooks will provide the Texans the security of knowing he can contribute to the offense immediately and may even take on the receiver one role if all goes well.
Four consecutive 1,000 receiving yard seasons constitute Brandin Cooks’ resume. If your plight with Cooks is his dropoff in production last year, then you should look at all Rams skill-position players across the board. Fingers eventually turn back to the play of Jared Goff. Goff is statistically one of the worst deep ball throwers over the last several seasons and Cooks still managed to top one-thousand yards in 2018 when everything was clicking for Goff. The 26-year-old now moves to Deshaun Watson, a top 5 deep ball passer in each season as a starter.
Cooks’ experience in New England has him primed and ready for his new shot in the very same offense with the Texans. In a time when OTAs and even pre-season are uncertain events, it will pay to have a veteran who can step in and have a firm grasp of the offense immediately. Not knocking the great rookie prospects in this year’s draft, but there should be virtually no learning curve for Cooks.
Cooks has played in 88 of 96 career games. The injury-prone narrative is a bit overblown. He has 5 known concussions in his career. Cooks has had 4 in the last three years and 1 of those was in Super Bowl LII. ALL OF HIS CONCUSSIONS WERE GRADE 1, with symptoms disappearing the following day on all accounts. A 2014 concussion reported by the Saints was later deemed to not be a concussion at all. It was noted as an extra precaution for their first-round pick. Of the 8 career games Cooks has missed, only 2 are due to concussions. Both were considered mild and he is considered to be NOT at HIGH RISK for subsequent concussions. You’re only injury-prone until you’re not, and vise-versa.
Which WR Should the Texans draft? Read it here
Trolling the Texans for the Hopkins and Cooks trades is…understandable, but overall Cooks is a good fit for Houston. Does the new look on offense hurt Deshaun Watson’s value? Heck no, he can read the defense and make the right decision, even if that means using his legs. You also can’t double-team any receiver on this team or roll coverage. If somehow no one is open downfield, perhaps now Watson will check down to his new slot receiver or pass catching back. BOB can continue to make us scratch our heads, but the weapons continue to pile up in Houston and they might not even be fully loaded just yet. It’s only April.
Miles Peacock is a content writer covering the NFL’s Houston Texans and XFL’s Houston Roughnecks for the Rumboyz.net and Timeskewed.com fantasy sports websites. Follow Miles on Twitter @FF_Peacock.