Next Gen Stats Say Amari Cooper And Jordy Nelson Were Open On Monday Night

Amari Cooper remains one of the great mysteries of the Raider offense – not to mention some of your fantasy teams, too.

Cooper’s lack of production is concerning and it’s hard to know what the root of the problem still happens to be. Interestingly, a stat passed along this morning by The Athletic’s Jimmy Durkin suggests Cooper wasn’t exactly draped in tight coverage all night by the Rams secondary.

Via The Athletic:

According to SportRadar’s Next Gen stats, Cooper averaged 3.61 yards of separation per throw on Monday. That’s the average of how far away the closest defender was on each of Carr’s pass attempts. Nelson was right behind at 3.59 yards. Those averages were the eighth- and ninth-highest in Week 1 among 69 starting wide receivers.

Could those numbers be skewed by some off coverage late in the game, when the Rams were perfectly comfortable giving Raiders receivers plenty of cushion? (And the Raiders still didn’t throw the ball their way.) Not really. The fourth quarter was when Cooper actually averaged the least amount of separation on the night at 3.06 yards.

So what’s the problem? Carr definitely didn’t look comfortable in the pocket, especially as the game wore on. He was only officially sacked once, but took a big hit from the Rams’ Aaron Donald on the Raiders’ third drive that was negated for a roughing the passer penalty when he went low to take Carr down.

Is Derek Carr missing open receivers downfield? It’s possible, but hard to know without seeing the All-22 film that will be released later in the week.

What would also be nice to know is how the play-action pass has somehow become so elusive yet again.

But it wasn’t ALL bad on Monday night. Far from it, actually.

Lost in the bitter ending was the fact that Carr played well in the first half and the Raiders actually had the ball with 2:30 left in the third quarter with the score tied. Paul Guenther’s defense also held up well until they wore down in the fourth quarter. The better team ended up on top, but Gruden wasn’t wrong when he said the game was closer than the final score.

On to Denver…

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