The New Orleans Saints resounding 49-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams this past Sunday did not come without a few down points. Saints star wide receiver Brandin Cooks was held without a single catch in the game, and for that matter wasn’t targeted at all on the 45 snaps that he played in.
Later, Cooks was apparently not very happy about his involvement in the game plan. The 3rd year wideout from Oregon State took his frustration on to Social Media, posting on both his Instagram and Twitter accounts that:
“They tell you its a business. Well, I guess I have to turn into a businessman”.
This is not the first time that the former 1st round draft choice has publicly shown unhappiness in this fashion.
After a Week “3 loss to the Falcons and a Week #4 victory over San Diego, when he had a combined 5 receptions for only 44 yards, Cooks expressed frustration with the offense.
The reaction by some Saints fans on Social Media was swift and unrelenting — which in some circles has since prompted this question:
Should Brandin Cooks just “shut up” and play football?
Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The question — although perhaps a bit harsh in its tone — may be valid to ask.
As recently as 2014, a Saints team that was thought by many to be a possible Super Bowl contender completely fell apart and unraveled; in large part due to player selfishness and a reported divided locker room, leading to a fracture in team unity.
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Stars such as linebacker Junior Galette, wide receiver Kenny Stills, and tight end Jimmy Graham showed unhappiness and selfish behavior on and off the field, and were even reported to be locker room “cancers”.
Now while there’s no evidence to even suggest that such a culture exists within the team anymore, Cooks’ reaction and public display of emotion was disturbing to some observers and especially fans whom felt that Cooks should have kept his frustrations “in-house”.
Cooks has proven to be a fierce competitor, and his comments certainly do not show any traits of a selfish “diva”, but rather a player who just wants to win.
One would suspect that Cooks’ comments were just a testament to frustration in HIMSELF.
Dec 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
He followed up those games against the Falcons and Chargers with a brilliant 7 catch, 173 yard performance that included an 87 yard touchdown effort; in a Week #6 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
On the season, Cooks has 51 catches for 736 yards and six TDs. Cooks is tied for 38th in the NFL with a total of 75 targets this season and tied for 36th with 51 catches.
However, his knack for “diappearing” or getting “shut down” in games has been an issue for him in all 3 seasons of his young career so far, and this season has been no exception.
Clearly after the game this Sunday, it was frustration talking on his behalf more than anything.
Now as ESPN.com Saints beat writer Mike Triplett noted yesterday: it’s too early to suggest that Cooks might demand a trade in the offseason. (He is under contract through 2017, with the Saints holding an option for 2018.)
And as Triplett also added: this isn’t a new issue, so the Saints might need to get Cooks more consistently involved in the offensive scheme of things, to keep him “happy”.
One thing to additionally consider: the caliber of the defenses that the Saints have played in recent weeks, and that those coverages were likely geared towards stopping him.
The Denver, Carolina, and the Rams (when they actually show up) defenses that New Orleans has faced the past 3 weeks, aren’t exactly considered “push overs”.
Nevertheless, it’s still Cooks’ responsibility to MAKE PLAYS — particularly if he’s going to live up to his incredible God-given talent and become a truly elite player at his position.
Nov 13, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) catches a touchdown over Denver Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward (43) and cornerback Bradley Roby (29) during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Broncos defeated the Saints 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
As it is, what’s been overlooked is that as a result of Cooks being “shut down”; it’s actually allowed the Saints offense to further evolve — with Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman, Josh Hill, and Coby Fleener all “stepping up” to take up the slack created by Cooks’ notable lack of involvement.
In a way, Cooks being “shut down” was a blessing in disguise; especially when your offense puts up nearly 50 points by utilizing other players who normally may not be involved as much in the game plan, as a direct result.
Still, Cooks is not happy with the way that things have worked out in recent weeks, and now he is “venting” and allowing his true feelings to come to the surface; and to be honest: there’s nothing wrong with that.
But as the many number of fans that were upset with Cooks were saying collectively throughout Social Media yesterday: there’s a time and place for everything, and putting your “business in the street” isn’t the right way to go about it.
Should Brandin Cooks just “shut up” and play?
How Cooks responds in these next 5 remaining games, will now be an added sub-plot to a season full of intrigue already………..