When the Patriots signed Brandin Cooks this offseason the excitement about adding a weapon with Cooks’ deep speed was palpable in Patriots nation. After all we’d been led to believe that Tom Brady could no longer throw deep without Randy Moss, that the Patriots ran a gimmick offense that relied on the “dink and dunk” that any quarterback could run. Why haven’t more teams adopted that easy offensive philosophy was just a question whose answer eluded even the most stat-backed football pundit.
Here we are, 10 games into the season and there’s no question any more that the deep ball is certainly back in New England, though it never really left except from people’s perceptions. Cooks has caught 12 balls longer than 20 yards, including catches of 62 (season-long) and 52 against the Raiders and the Pats are rolling, pushing the betting odds for Patriots vs. Dolphins game to another stratosphere.
It wasn’t instant out-of-the-gate unstoppability like it was with Randy Moss, but the addition of Cooks has finally put the deep pass back on the front burner for defenses. There’s no more crowding the line, taking away the quick passes and daring Brady to throw down the field. Now, the downfield attack is coming, and defenses are wise to protect themselves from it.
Let’s take a closer look at the two big Cooks plays from the Raiders game, and examine how the Patriots are making these big plays.