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Rams' Cook not happy with season
Rams' Cook not happy with season
11 hours ago • By Jim Thomas
Tight end Jared Cook is on pace to establish career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns.
With four games remaining in 2013, he already has more reception yards (557) in one season than any Rams tight end since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995. He needs eight more catches to establish a “St. Louis” Rams single-season high for receptions by a tight end.
And he leads the 2013 squad in receptions (40) and yards 12 games into the season.
Nonetheless, the prevailing opinion is that Cook has had a disappointing first season with the Rams after signing a five-year, $35.1 million free-agent deal last March following his first four seasons in Tennessee.
In a sense, Cook is victim of his stellar Rams debut. In the season opener against Arizona, he caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. The 141 yards was an all-time single-game record for a Rams tight end.
That is what’s called setting the bar high.
“What that game did for him is, obviously, it made people aware of him,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “He gathers a lot of attention in the passing game, but we’ve got a lot of weapons. The design of the plays is with multiple progressions in mind, and sometimes he’s not the first progression and he’s open and the ball goes someplace else.”
But Cook has caught only two TD passes total over the next 11 games, and caught no more than five passes for no more than 80 yards in any other game.
“If you know football, everybody knows it’s any given Sunday,” Cook said. “It’s going to be hard to put up numbers like that every single week — just in terms of how defenses scheme and how defenses play against you.”
Even so, Cook concedes that he expected more from himself.
“Some games just got away,” he said. “Some games you feel like you could’ve played better. A lot of times there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve just got to keep playing and keep pushing forward.”
He takes little solace in the fact that he’s the most productive tight end in the 19 seasons of the “St. Louis” Rams.
“That doesn’t make me satisfied at all,” he said. “I just have to improve in the areas of my play because I feel like I can help this team some more.”
The to-do list is wide-ranging, from being more physical getting off the line of scrimmage, to becoming more consistent catching the ball, to improving his blocking.
For several weeks after that dashing debut vs. the Cardinals, Cook found himself at the top of the opponent’s scouting report. Atlanta in Week 2 had a linebacker mug him on the line of scrimmage with safety help over the top.
“Yeah. But that’s what defenses are for,” Cook said. “They get paid to stop us, and they get paid to put in schemes for their players to stop us. It’s tough.”
All in all, it has been a season of adjustment for Cook, and in some ways the receiving corps as a whole.
First came the adjustment to being targeted by opposing defenses.
Then came a switch to a more ground-oriented offense in Game 5, limiting opportunities to catch the ball. The Rams averaged 48 passes a game in their first four contests; they’ve thrown only 28 times a game since then.
Then in Game 8, Kellen Clemens took over as starting quarterback in place of the injured Sam Bradford.
“It’s different, man,” Cook said. “You’ve got two different trajectories to where the ball’s coming out. You’ve got two different guys throwing two different balls. A lot of people don’t take that into account, but it’s a lot different.
“But I think everybody’s done a pretty good job of adjusting to that. And I think Kellen’s done a heck of a job of stepping in in Sam’s place, and kind of been a sparkplug for us offensively.”
As for Cook, regardless of any thoughts outside the walls of Rams Park, Schottenheimer likes what he sees this season.
“He’s always a good target for us in the ‘money’ zone (the red zone), and third down,” Schottenheimer said. “The thing I’m most pleased about is the effort in the run game. We know what he is as a pass receiver, but in the run game, he’s taken a lot of steps up.”
Schottenheimer said Cook has worked hard on his run-blocking with tight ends coach Rob Boras, to the point where “he’s doing some things ... that we never saw him do before in Tennessee that we’re really pleased about.”
Now comes Round 2 against Arizona. In a conference call with St. Louis reporters earlier in the week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians called Cook the Rams’ “biggest game breaker” and one of the most athletic young tight ends to “come out in a while.” For Cook, still only 25, it’s a matter of honing his game and getting the best out of himself.
And what better team to do it against than the Big Red, who play a lot of man-to-man, and have had trouble covering tights ends much of the year. Last week, they gave up three TDs to tight ends against Philadelphia.
“Yeah, I took notice of that,” said Cook, matter-of-factly.
Re: Rams' Cook not happy with season
Self awareness is an important step in improvement and professionalism in anything at any level. Cook should be disappointed. He has had his moments, but the number of drops has been unacceptable, as has his penchant for disappearing in games from time to time. True, Sammy's injury has hurt his production, but he has had plenty of chances to make key first downs and big plays where he has simply missed catchable balls all year.
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