“I don’t play fantay football” Mike McCarthy on Brandin Cook’ limited role on the field

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Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t appear to enjoy being asked multiple questions during Monday’s press conference about why Brandin Cooks only registered one catch on two targets for seven yards in Sunday’s 28-23 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles.

I don’t play fantasy football, McCarthy told reporters. We have game plans and I think it’s important and this is a challenge for guys because our system is built on making the quarterback successful. That’s the way this passing game is taught. It’s the way I’ve learned it. It’s the way it has always been the last 30 years.

Mike McCarthy on Brandin Cooks’ limited role: I don’t play fantasy football. https://t.co/mR53XZzfVd— ProFootballTalk (ProFootballTalk)

November 7, 2023The Cowboys sent the Houston Texans a fifth-round pick in 2023 and a sixth-round pick in 2024 for Cooks in the offseason, with the expectation that he would provide a solid sidekick in the passing game to CeeDee Lamb and replace the production the team lost when Amari Cooper was traded to the Cleveland Browns ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Neither Cooks nor Michael Gallup (22 catches for 243 yards) has offered a major threat behind Lamb (57 catches for 843 yards and three scores) in the passing game.

The positive development is that Jake Ferguson is emerging as a solid tight end in his second season, with touchdown receptions in consecutive games and a big performance against the Eagles (seven catches for 91 yards and a score).

Ferguson being second on the team in receptions (32) and receiving yards (328) was not the expectation after the acquisition of Cooks.

Cooks wasn’t expected to be fifth on the team in both receptions and targets (29). Cowboys QB Dak Prescott says he needs to get a playmaker like Brandin Cooks the ball.

Some of that may come down to quarterback Dak Prescott having less time to build chemistry with Cooks in the passing game than Lamb, Ferguson, Gallup or running back Tony Pollards.

You have to have coverage beaters and so forth, but we play to the discipline of the quarterback and the training of the quarterback,

McCarthy said, suggesting that some of Cooks’ usage has simply come down to how Prescott goes through his progressions.

Yes, I’d love to see everybody get the ball. But when you throw for (374) yards and you got to come in here and answer questions about someone not getting the ball, I mean, come on—I don’t think that’s a real evaluation.

After the Cowboys’ latest loss to the Eagles on Sunday, Mike McCarthy got into a discussion with reporters discussing ball distribution on the offense.

Cooks ended Sunday’s 28–23 loss with just one catch for seven yards on two targets. On the season, the 30-year-old has 17 catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

Dallas traded for Cooks in March and there was an immediate expectation that he’d be heavily involved in the offense given his track record, finishing five seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards heading into 2023.

Cooks has been targeted a total of 29 times this year, but McCarthy harped on the fact that Cooks is a big reason why the passing game thrived Sunday despite it not showing up in the box score.

We had a tremendous amount of production in the pass game and Brandin and all the guys are part of that.

When the Dallas Cowboys acquired veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Houston Texans this summer, fans were expecting the speedster to slot in as a clear No. 2 for Dak Prescott.

In the Cowboys’ 28-23 loss to the Eagles on Sunday, Cooks received just two targets, bringing his 2023 total up to 29, which is fewer than CeeDee Lamb, Jake Ferguson, Michael Gallup, and Tony Pollard.

Asked about Cooks’ usage after the loss, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was irked by the question.

I’d love to see everybody get the ball, McCarthy said. But when you throw for (374) yards and you got to come in here and answer questions about someone not getting the ball, I mean, come on, I don’t think that’s a real evaluation

I don’t play fantasy football, McCarthy added. We have game plans. I think it’s important, this is general for guys, because our system is built on making the quarterback successful

I think some of our games early in the year, we played some out-of-balance games, he continued. How many times have we thrown the ball north of 40? I think if you want to be a top offense in the league, you definitely want to throw it 40 and run it 30 and be out there for 70 plays. We haven’t played a lot of those games, too. I think statistics are really for the end of the year. We’re all conscious of it every week. You guys make me conscious of it. We’re aware of it.

McCarthy went on to argue that just because Cooks is trailing his 2022 stats by a couple hundred yards, doesn’t mean he isn’t contributing to the offense.

He was a big part of the production, McCarthy said. Anytime a guy comes up short, you want to see him get more targets and opportunities.

On the year, Cooks has 17 catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys traded for Brandin Cooks in the offseason to be their No. 2 receiver. Brown had almost as many yards (153) for the Texans on Sunday as Cooks has this season (165).

Cooks is fifth on the team in receptions (17) and yards, third among wideouts behind CeeDee Lamb and Gallup.

After Cooks made only one reception on two targets for 7 yards in Sunday’s 28-23 loss to the Eagles, Coach Mike McCarthy was asked about Cooks’ role or lack thereof.

McCarthy did not appreciate the continued line of questioning about Cooks, who is on pace for a career-worst season.

Cooks was wide open in the end zone on the fourth-and-goal play where rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker ended up a foot short of the end zone.

Cooks, who missed one game with a knee injury, is averaging career lows with 2.4 receptions per game, 23.6 yards per game and 9.7 yards per reception despite playing 71 percent of the snaps.

The Cowboys traded for him, they said, to give them a deep threat, but his longest reception is 25 yards.


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