There has been a lot of talk, both recently and entering the season, that Riley Cooper is not worthy of starting a game and/or cannot get open. With that said, we must consider two things: his blocking and his receiving. While his blocking is terrific (few if any would deny that if they actually watch games), he does struggle to get separation on routes and/or fails to get yards after the catch when the ball is in his hands. Cooper's lack of production has somewhat put the Eagles in a bind with only DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant serving as wide receivers along with tight ends like Zach Ertz and Brent Celek.
The limitation that is put on weapons is tough for a quarterback. If you look at teams that only have one major option as a receiver, most of them struggle to score points. The Eagles quarterbacks, Michael Vick and Nick Foles, have not had that trouble but have stalled on drives and thrown incomplete passes because Jackson and Cooper have not been able to get open. The results have made it hard for the Eagles to grow momentum at times.
So with all the doubts about Cooper as a starter, I figured that I would look into how ineffective he is compared to number two receivers on all teams. The results are not very pretty:
Update: Let's throw Jason Avant's numbers into the mix. Avant has 15 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers would essentially place him 23rd in yardage and he is about average for touches.
Keep in mind that these results were calculated through Week 5 (TNF's stats are not calculated). This table shows that Cooper is 31st in both receptions and yards. Compared to the likes of Alshon Jeffery and Eric Decker, you would think Cooper is the number four wide receiver on the Eagles. That said, it would make a lot of sense to view him in that light. Jackson is obviously the number one receiver, you have the tight ends, Jason Avant is targeted quite a bit and then there is also LeSean McCoy, who gets tons of catches out of the backfield.
While we may be displeased with Cooper as a starter, his blocking is obviously the key for Chip Kelly. When you take a step back and realize that he is about the sixth option on offense, his numbers actually make a ton of sense. However, maybe we still should expect more play-making from your starters.
It will be interesting to see how Cooper is used against a Buccaneers defense that features zone coverage and will likely stack the box against McCoy. If Cooper fails to take advantage, he very well may see less time on the field.