Back in 2013 and 2014 with the Rams, tight end Jared Cook was a dynamic playmaker. Over those two years he had seasons of 51 and 52 catches for more than 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns.
Now it appears he’s on his way to the best season of his nine-year pro career.
Nine games into his first year with the Oakland Raiders, Cook has developed a terrific rapport with quarterback Derek Carr. He’s coming off an eight-catch, 126-yard night in a win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday and he has two 100-yard receiving games in the past three. He has 39 catches just past the halfway point of the season – the most he’s had since 2014 – and has 499 yards. He’s within range of easily breaking his season best of 759 receiving yards for the Titans in 2011.
Cook, who played last season in Green Bay, is in the first year of a two-year, $12.2 million contract, and he’s been just what the Raiders hoped he would be. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he’s a big target with the ability to find open spots in the secondary.
“He’s a matchup problem,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “We had our issues defending other guys like that around the league. This year, we set out to get one of our own. He can be a real factor.”
Cook did most of his damage in the first half, when the Dolphins couldn’t cover him, pulling in six catches for 111 yards. Miami changed up its defense over the final two quarters to limit his damage.
Cook ranks fourth in the NFL in receptions among tight ends behind only Travis Kelce of the Chiefs (51), Jack Doyle of the Colts (50) and Zach Ertz of the Eagles (43).
On the Raiders’ first drive of the night – which led to a field goal – Cook pulled in three catches to help get Oakland off to a good start in a game it needed to win. The victory improved the Raiders to 4-5.
“It’s just time and hard work,” Cook told reporters, of his success this season with the Raiders and Carr. “I don’t think you can have too good a rapport with your quarterback. The chemistry is strong and it’ll get better the more we play together.”
Oakland now gets some time off with a bye week. The Raiders resume play on Sunday Nov. 19 vs. the Patriots in Mexico City.