The Thanksgiving showdown with the Washington Redskins will only be the fourth for Amari Cooper with the Dallas Cowboys. But Dallas owner, Jerry Jones, likes what he’s seen.
Speaking on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” Jones compared what Cooper’s presence has done for Ezekiel Elliott with what Michael Irvin did for fellow Hall of Famer, Emmitt Smith.
“Emmitt had a lot of his runs where he wasn’t touched for the first three or four yards,” Jones said, H/T Kevin Patra, NFL.com. “It’s because [Troy] Aikman and Irvin had them backed off, and they knew if they didn’t stay back then Aikman, Irvin and [Jay] Novacek would take them right down the field. Well, Cooper has done that for us. We got to keep them back off. When we do, then Zeke can basically have the kind of days we want him to have as a running back. So it’s a balance thing — it always has been.”
The numbers help Jones’ case.
Cooper’s numbers have been fairly modest in Dallas. In three games, he’s caught 14 passes for 169 yards with one touchdown. That said, the difference in Elliott’s production has been anything but modest.
In the seven games prior to the Cooper trade, Elliott was averaging 88.4 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per attempt. In Cooper’s first three games with the Cowboys, Elliott has averaged 111.3 yards a game and 5.7 per carry. Not coincidentally, Dallas was 3-4 prior to the trade and has gone 2-1 since.
Certainly, it feels premature to compare Cooper to a Hall of Fame receiver and three-time Super Bowl winner. But the early returns show that Cooper has made a sizable impact on Elliott’s production.