Tight end Jared Cook was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a free agent last March – allowing plenty of time for a veteran going into his eighth year to synchronize with an MVP-caliber quarterback entering his 12th year. You can probably see where this is heading.
Here’s a breakdown of Cook’s year:
- Games 1-3: six catches, 53 yards, long catch of 15 yards – Cook was not prominently featured in the offense.
- Games 4-9: Cook suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of the Lions game (week 3) and missed these six games.
- Game 10: In an embarrassing 42-24 loss to the Redskins, Cook had six catches for 105 yards, with a long catch of 47 yards and his lone TD of the regular season. Maybe this guy has some talent after all.
- Games 11-13: five catches, 41 yards, longest catch of 15 yards. Jared Who?
- Games 14-16: 13 catches, 178 yards, including grabs of 30, 27, and 24 yards. What do you know, he can play!
- Playoffs: 18 catches, 229 yards, including catches of 35, 26, 26, and 25 yards, two touchdowns. Cook just earned himself a nice new contract, but with what team?
For the regular season games he played, Cook had 30 catches out of 51 targets for 377 yards, an average of 37.7 yards per game. He had 19 catches for first downs, seven for 20 or more yards, and just one TD.
These are disappointing numbers, to me anyway, but I want to be quick to say I’m not faulting Cook in any way.
For a player of Cook’s ability, being thrown to by a QB like Aaron Rodgers, his regular season numbers should have been much higher. I’m thinking of numbers like he had in the three playoff games: 18 catches out of 32 targets for 229 yards, an average of 76 yards per game, including catches of 35, 26, 26, and 25 yards, and for two touchdowns.
I keep bringing up the 20+ yards stats because Cook was a 4.50 second 40-yard dash man – a sensational time for one who’s 6’5” and 254 pounds. He’s a true deep threat.
I do like that Cook had six catches per playoff game, exactly double his rate during the regular season. Completion percentages, however were under 60 percent in both segments – let’s hope Rodgers and Cook are more in synch next year – which presupposes the tight end stays in Green Bay.
Cook’s completion percentage of 57.8 percent (48 of 83, including playoffs) ought to be in line with other top tight ends: Zach Ertz (PHI), 78 of 106, 74 percent; Travis Kelce (KC), 85 of 117, 73 percent; Jason Witten (DAL), 69 of 95, 73 percent; and Eric Ebron (DET), 61 of 86, 71 percent. Witten, by the way, is five years older than Cook.
Cook’s Future in Green Bay
Given Cook’s awesome athletic prowess, we at Total Packers were excited about his acquisition long before the season started. He didn’t let us down, but the usual suspects largely failed to take full advantage of his ability right up to the postseason. Let’s not repeat that blunder.
Cook’s one-year contract was for a $2.75 million base. There was another $900,000 available in incentives, though his six missed games probably wrecked those hopes. Cook wants to stay in Green Bay. I suspect he will.
I’m thinking big about this big man. My goals for Cook in 2017 are something like: 90 targets, 60 catches, 67 percent completions, 750 yards, 40 first downs, 6 touchdowns, and 12 catches of 20+ yards. These would be similar to the stats of Jermichael Finley in 2011 (93, 55, 60 percent, 767, 44, 8, and 14).