(Photo by iSports Times)
When Oakland Raiders rookie quarterback Connor Cook substituted current second-stringer Matt McGloin in the third quarter of a Week 17 road matchup against the Denver Broncos after McGloin injured his shoulder, with McGloin having completed just six of eleven passes for a barely noticeable 21 yards, the Raiders not only downgraded but became anything but mistake-free.
Cook got himself sacked twice, threw an interception, and lost a fumble despite throwing one touchdown pass with his team down 24-0 in the third quarter. Still, with only six points coming from him and the Broncos, Cook’s play not only affirmed Denver’s elitism on defense but made it look better than it already was.
Denver allowed 18.6 points per game this season, including 17.9 points per game at home. With Cook’s six points appearing the second half only, based on averages, he would have caused Denver to allow just 12 points for the full game.
According to Raiders fans (and likely Skip Bayless), however, it was okay. He was inexperienced and playing his first game against an elite defense. Even idiots who never cared about the Raiders made proclamations like “Cook is more talented [than Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage]” and that the Houston Texans “will be lucky to beat a [third] string [quarterback].”
Except, in a talent-first league where a second-year seventh-rounder named Trevor Siemian unseats first-rounder Paxton Lynch and then first-stringer Mark Sanchez, fourth-round rookie like Dak Prescott (a player drafted after Cook) is a second-stringer before Tony Romo gets hurt; second-year sixth-rounder, David Fales, unseats second-stringer Jimmy Clausen, a rookie third-rounder named Russell Wilson beats out then second-stringer Tarvaris Jackson and first-stringer Matt Flynn, and undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer played directly behind Tom Brady, we should have known that Cook was untalented from the beginning.
He was not even good enough to unseat a player (McGloin) that failed to beat out a washed up veteran like Matt Schaub in Oakland. Schaub is so horrible that he not only lost his job to a second-round rookie, Derek Carr but has thrown three touchdowns versus six interceptions in his last six games with at least one pass attempt.
Let us not forget that Cook plays for an organization that drafted Tyler Wilson in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and cut him before he ended up only appearing on the team’s practice squad, a rare transaction for a fourth-round rookie.
But when his preseason showed that he worsened not only after his senior and junior years at Michigan State, Cook should be thankful that the Raiders chose not to cut him the same way they cut Wilson.
In comparison to his junior year, he completed his passes at a rate that was 2 percent worse (56.1 percent) and threw one fewer yard per attempt (7.7) as a senior. In four NFL preseason games against second and third-string players, Cook completed just 55.4% of his passes for 368 yards and threw three interceptions but no touchdowns.
I understand that Osweiler has been a horrible thrower in 2016 and a fragile-minded player that caved under contractual pressure and worsened more after feeling slighted by the Broncos in 2015.
But repeatedly, everyone keeps failing to realize that football is a unison sport that requires a team to outscore its opponent while lowering its opponent’s scoring total. With Houston having a defense that allowed just 1.9 more points than Denver’s (20.5), beaten a team that beat Oakland twice, Kansas City, and being 7-1 at home, to not assume that Cook and the Raiders were going to struggle was the equivalent of not taking showers.
Cook was already going to be without Donald Penn at left tackle, and that helped Texans pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney intercept Cook in the first quarter and set up the offense to take advantage of another Raider flaw.
Oakland’s defense allowed averages of 24.1 points and 375.1 yards in the regular season (with and without cornerback D.J. Hayden). With Lamar Miller returning along with his average of 90.1 yards from scrimmage, he used his strengths and followed his coaches’ game plan against Oakland’s weaknesses and ran for a two-yard touchdown in the series after Clowney’s pick. Osweiler added more by completing 75 percent of his eighteen passes for 146 yards and throwing a touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 1:24 remaining in the first half.
Such a performance should have been no surprise as he already completed 66.7 percent of his passes versus Oakland in Week 11 in their Mexico City matchup. With the Texans’ improving offense, Cook’s ten of fourteen passes being incompletions and an interception, and a 20-7 halftime lead, déjà vu was destiny for the Silver and Black.
In the second half, Cook only had fourteen more completions out of thirty-one pass attempts and made things worse by throwing two more interceptions despite throwing one touchdown pass with the Raiders down 7-27 with 8:14 left in the fourth quarter. The Raiders never made it any better by allowing Osweiler to run for a touchdown and running back Jonathan Grimes to run for 28 of his 30 yards on three carries in the same period.
It is easy to ridicule Osweiler, and the Texans, for unimpressive play. But when the ridiculing comes from people in a country who they think they are so good at the onset, it makes me wonder if we should listen to them at all.
According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Test, the U.S. scores higher than any other developed country in confidence level, a level so high that it was increasingly disproportionate to an area that we should be better in, math. Out of thirty-five countries participating in the PISA test, Americans ranked 31st.
When such people are a product of that kind of educational outcome, and more than likely supported Cook and the Raiders, they were going to skip basic statistics that made the Raiders and Cook look so horrible while ignoring statistical strengths of the Texans. Let us not forget that Osweiler’s struggles accelerated the schadenfreude of these low-lives. With that combined with these people’s unwarranted self-esteem levels, they might as well have called themselves Skip Bayless and confidently predicted a Texans playoff forfeiture.
Osweiler got $72 million for a reason, and when he got playing time in Denver and Houston while Cook never got meaningful playing time in practice or a game in Week 17, it actually shows that Osweiler has something that Cook and many Americans do not have: talent. It takes talent to average 4.4 yards per rush at quarterback, complete 59 percent of your passes, and have a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Peyton Manning in 2015, something Cook never has done and will never do.
It takes no talent to study both teams because when all you need is basic research skills and common sense, there is and was no point in believing in the Raiders playing with Cook. Unfortunately, this moment will happen again, because when confidence in the U.S. is what only matters and nothing more than a disguise and misnomer for delusion, there is no point in listening to that person. After all, when people cannot differentiate being confident from being delusional, they are not even worthy enough to be called either adjective because, ultimately, they are something that they will never admit to being, just plain stupid.