For “Diehard” Saints Fans: 4 Storylines to Watch as Season Closes

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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

Can Brandin Cooks Handle Playing Second Fiddle?

Brandin Cooks has made all sorts of headlines since he expressed his frustration at not being targeted in the Saints blowout win over the L.A. Rams, not a single one of them good.

It also happens that since he vocalized his frustration, the Saints have turned in their two worst performances of the year on offense.

Earlier this week, Drew Brees called the notion that he was forcing the ball to Cooks “ridiculous.” Cooks for his part, literally tried to laugh away similar lines of questioning.

Throw in Cooks’ crucial dropped touchdown pass in the second half of last weeks loss, and there’s no denying that tensions are running high here, despite what they tell the media.

Brandin Cooks has been a fan favorite since being taken in the first round in 2014, but he has also been criticized for “disappearing” often times during big games.

Cooks’ frustrations center around his role in the offense, stipulating that too often he has been used as a “clear-out” receiver. The idea being that he forces the defense to cover him deep which opens up things underneath for other receivers.

Throw into this mess the emergence of rookie standout Michael Thomas.

One of the critiques against Cooks is his ability to make contested catches. While he can use his speed to get open, he doesn’t come down with very many 50-50 balls. Because of his size, Thomas excels at coming down with contested catches, a skill a true number one receiver must have.

No matter how brilliant the scheming of an offensive coordinator, there will be times when the defense is on you, and a receiver still needs to make a play.

It’s clear that Thomas is quickly becoming Drew Brees’ favorite target, and by next season, Thomas will be the undisputed number one receiver, if he isn’t already.

November 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) catches a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock (26) during the fourth quarter at Levi

The dynamic of Cooks, Thomas, and Brees will be of critical importance as the Saints close out this season. Can the offense get back on track?

Can Brees spread the ball around enough to keep all of his receivers happy?

Next: Saints (Pre-College Football Playoffs) 7 Round 2017 Mock Draft

If the situation continues to deteriorate, it is not outside the realm of possibility for Cooks to be somewhere else next season.

All told, there are still a lot of moving pieces with the Saints on the field this year. Before the off-season begins and the wheeling and dealing starts, the Saints need to resolve some issues, and find out exactly who they have, and how that fits into the image of who they want to become in 2017……..