Following his release by the Los Angeles Rams earlier in the offseason, the much maligned tight end Jared Cook has found a new home in Green Bay. This week it was reported by NFL.com’s Marc Sessler that Cook’s main motivation for joining the Packers was the presence of an established, top tier quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
Now, clearly a player joining a new team is inevitably going to speak in glowing terms about his new teammates. Also, Rodgers’ status as one of the league’s top quarterbacks is undeniable, having passed for over 32,000 yards in his illustrious career. But there will surely be many fans of the Los Angeles Rams whose eyebrows will raised by Cook’s insinuation that the lack of a quarterback of the same calibre at Rodgers is the reason for his lack of production over the last few years.
When Rams fans think back to Cook’s time with the franchise, one things sticks out in the mind: dropping the ball at crucial times. We all remember this one against Dallas in 2014 which arguably changed the direction of the game. How long he stays on the field if he puts one down like that in Green Bay is anyone’s guess – but probably less time than his old buddy Jeff Fisher gave him.
All this is not to say that Cook might not have a bit of a point about the quarterback situation with the Los Angeles Rams. As Sessler points out in his article, with Sam Bradford injured for the majority of time and Cook playing alongside, at best, decent quality backup signal callers like Kellen Clemens and Shaun Hill, maybe there was a something a glass ceiling for Cook’s performances. That said, the lack of an Aaron Rodgers on the roster does not necessarily prevent a receiver from doing real damage.
The farcical quarterback situation in Cleveland did not prevent tight end Gary Barnidge picking up 1043 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2015, with Travis Benjamin not far behind with 966 yards and 5 scores. Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor won’t often be mentioned in the same bracket as Rodgers, Brees or Manning, yet Sammy Watkins also managed to break into four figures last year with 1047 yards and 9 touchdowns on a generally quite average 8-8 team. What this shows is that receivers and tight ends can punch above their weight even with inconsistency or lack of genuine quality at the quarterback position. Jared Cook has not done so.
To be fair to Jared Cook, the quotations from his press conference are mainly in the positive about Green Bay, rather than overtly in the negative about the Los Angeles Rams. But reading between the lines of what he says, the potential is there to interpret his remarks as something of a dig at his former team. Cook is right in that playing with Aaron Rodgers is a significant step up from anyone he’s played with before. But does this automatically mean the drops will be eliminated and 2016 will see a first 1000-yard season for Cook? I doubt it.
One final thought. After a conversation with Aaron Rodgers, Cook is quoted as saying “I think I was more excited than he was” To Los Angeles Rams fans, this comment is probably as predictable as it is amusing.