Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
There is a piece of truth about the Dallas Cowboys that needs to be acknowledged, and it will cause people great pain. So sit down, take a deep breath and prepare yourself.
That truth is this: Jerry Jones was right.
Did you just lose your appetite for turkey leftovers?
He was right to trade a first-rounder for wide receiver Amari Cooper. He was right in thinking that kind of draft capital was worth it. He was right to see what Cooper would do to the offense: stretch it, make it more explosive, make it easier on Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Jones always believes he is right (and often he’s not). But on this? He was dead-on.
Cooper had two long touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 31-23 Thanksgiving Day victory at AT&T Stadium that made his team the front-runner to win the NFC East.
Cooper was dazzling and, at times, simply jaw-dropping. His first score came on a 40-yard slant during which he looked faster than he ever did in Oakland. That made it 17-13.
His second was even more impressive. He caught a short pass and went for a 90-yard burst, outrunning the entire Washington secondary. It was the longest catch of his career and the longest pass of Prescott’s career.
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
The most impressive part of that play was the speed. As Next Gen Stats noted (via ESPN Stats & Info), Cooper reached 20.82 mph, the fastest any Cowboys ball-carrier has hit since 2016.
Of course, after the game, Jones took a bit of a victory lap. He spoke of how former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told him Cooper was worth trading for.
“Jack Del Rio told me before we made the trade, he said, ‘Just look at the Kansas City film a year ago,'” Jones said, per ProFootballTalk. “We just said to hell with it. We’re not going to do anything but throw him the ball. Just look at that, and that will show you what Amari is like. And so that [game today] kind of reminded me a little of what [Del Rio] was trying to say.
“I’m proud for him. He’s working hard. He’s so conscientious, and I just am so proud that we have him.”
In that Chiefs game, Cooper had 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don’t want to prove the Raiders wrong,” Cooper said. “I just want to prove the Cowboys right. They traded for me, and I’m going to be a good player for them.”
Cooper was never known for this type of speed in Oakland. Perhaps it was because his quarterback there wasn’t as good as Prescott, or maybe because the Raiders are rebuilding and have traded away all of their players. Whatever the reason, we are seeing a totally different Cooper.
What he’s providing is symbiosis. Prescott has another weapon, Elliott has breathing room because of it and Cooper benefits from single coverage thanks to the attention the quarterback gets. This game was a perfect example: Elliott had 143 total yards and one touchdown, Prescott had a season-high 289 passing yards and Cooper had 180 yards on eight catches.
Which brings us back to Jones.
Maybe Jones just got lucky. And maybe a first-round pick for Cooper is still too much. It might be, but Jones took a chance that Cooper could add a spark and propel Dallas into the playoffs. There’s a good chance he’s right, as the Cowboys are 6-5 and tied with Washington for the division lead. Despite splitting head-to-head matchups with Washington, Dallas is technically in first place, as it holds the next tiebreaker (record within division).
Danny Karnik/Associated Press
Jones has gotten a lot of things wrong—namely, holding on to coach Jason Garrett far too long. Garrett is excellent at clapping but not much else.
On Cooper, though, Jones looks like he may have nailed it.
Now, it is true that the NFC East is a dreadful division. The Giants are Eagles are just about dead. Washington is stuck with Colt McCoy at quarterback for the remainder of the season.
It’s possible, if not likely, should Dallas make the playoffs, it’d lose its first game. The Cowboys would likely be the worst team in the playoffs.
But they’d be in the postseason, and that’s what Jones wanted when he traded for Cooper.
It’s difficult for some to admit Jones is right about something, especially since he would have no problem telling you so himself.
Cooper, though, he got right. Very right.
Try not to puke.