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Amari Cooper

Cooper returns to building where he went for 265 yards

Amari Cooper torched the Texans for 265 yards and 2 TDs a few weeks ago. Does that make him the favorite to be the most productive receiver this week? Or is it an indication that the Texans will be revising their defensive plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Amari Cooper torched the Texans for 265 yards and 2 TDs a few weeks ago. Does that make him the favorite to be the most productive receiver this week? Or is it an indication that the Texans will be revising their defensive plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Cooper, by the way, checks out health-wise. He missed the last two games with a heel injury but says he’s fine.

I played around with a few numbers on this, and they suggest that Cooper is far more likely to miss rather than hit.

In the 32-team era, 17 wide receivers have gone over 200 yards against an opponent, then come back to play against that same team in the playoffs. Of those previous 17, only one reach 100 receiving yards (JaMarr Chase, two years ago against the Ravens).

The numbers are actually a lot worse than I expected. Only two of those 17 receivers scored, and they averaged 4.8 catches for 54 yards in the rematches. An 18th receiver (DeSean Jackson) didn’t play in the rematch, which doesn’t factor into the averages.

REMATCHES AGAINST 200-YARD RECEIVERS
YearPlayerOppResultNoYdsTDRematch
2002Shannon Sharpe, Den.at K.C.W 37-341221425-31-0
2007Chad Johnson, Cin.at Cle.L 45-511120924-44-0
2010Terrell Owens, Cin.at Cle.L 20-231022210-0-0
2010DeSean Jackson, Phil.at Dall.W 30-2742101DNP
2010Malcom Floyd, S.D.at Oak.L 27-35821315-72-0
2011Wes Welker, N.E.at Buff.L 31-341621726-51-0
2012Vincent Jackson, T.B.N.O.L 28-35721616-81-0
2013Andre Johnson, Hou.Ind.L 24-27922934-18-0
2013Josh Gordon, Cle.Pitt.L 11-271423717-82-0
2014T.Y. Hilton, Ind.at Hou.W 33-28922314-50-0
2014A.J. Green, Cin.Pitt.L 21-421122418-82-0
2015A.J. Green, Cin.at Balt.W 28-241022724-34-1
2016Marvin Jones, Det.at G.B.L 27-34620525-76-0
2016Julio Jones, Atl.Car.W 48-331230014-60-0
2017Amari Cooper, Oak.K.C.W 31-301121020-0-0
2017Julio Jones, Atl.T.B.W 34-201225323-54-0
2020Tyler Lockett, Sea.at Ari.L 34-371520039-67-1
2021JaMarr Chase, Cin.at Balt.W 41-17820117-125-0
2023Amari Cooper, Cle.at Hou.W 36-22112652Saturday

My working theory is that once a receiver has a huge game against an opponent, he becomes more of a focal point in the rematch. The coverage plan the first time around didn’t work, so they come to the rematch with something new.

(This is the 10,000-foot view, by the way, ignoring such factors as defenses missing key starters or quarterbacks being sidelined – just working with numbers here.)

The “defenses adjust” theory, however, isn’t supported when looking at additional stats. There have been 18 other wide receivers who’ve gone over 200 yards not in their first game against an opponent but in the second. Those players were even worse in their initial games.

For those 18 later-season guys, only two of them scored in the initial matchup. And those 18 receivers averaged only 3.4 catches for 39 yards. None of them reached 100 yards.

Those numbers suggest to me that it’s probably less about defenses coming up with new solutions and more simply a reflection of it being hard to put up big numbers.

'PREMATCHES' AGAINST 200-YARD RECEIVERS
YearPlayerOppResultNoYdsTDRematch
2003Torry Holt, St.L.at S.F.L 10-301120016-64-1
2005Chris Chambers, Mia.Buff.W 24-231523814-60-0
2008Antonio Bryant, T.B.at Car.L 23-38920021-13-0
2008Andre Johnson, Hou.Ten.W 13-121120712-29-0
2009Sidney Rice, Min.Det.W 27-10720103-29-0
2009Jabar Gaffney, Den.K.C.L 24-441421300-0-0
2011Calvin Johnson, Det.at G.B.L 41-451124414-49-1
2012Justin Blackmon, Jac.at Hou.L 37-43723610-0-0
2012Calvin Johnson, Det.at Min.L 24-341220715-54-0
2012Andre Johnson, Hou.Jac.W 43-371427313-21-0
2013Alshon Jeffery, Chi.at Min.L 20-231224921-11-0
2014Eric Decker, NYJat Mia.W 37-241022112-18-0
2014DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.Ten.W 45-21923825-95-0
2016Adam Thielen, Min.at G.B.L 25-381220224-41-0
2017Antonio Brown, Pitt.Balt.W 39-381121304-34-0
2018Amari Cooper, Dall.Phil.W 29-231021736-75-0
2022Justin Jefferson, Min.at Det.L 23-341122303-14-0
2022Mike Evans, T.B.Car.W 30-241020739-96-0

With these numbers, I’m thinking I would rather go with guys like CeeDee, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp in this initial rack of games.

—Ian Allan

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