By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Brandin Cooks has drawn plenty of attention since arriving in New England, but it still may not be as much as he’s gotten from the Falcons.READ MORE: 2 Boston Police Officers, Child Hospitalized After Fight On School Bus
The Patriots receiver hasn’t been perfect this season, but he has made plenty of big plays when called upon, leading all NFL wideouts with 19.7 yards per catch. But if his history against the Falcons is any indication, he may have trouble getting open down the field.
In five career games against Atlanta, Cooks has averaged four catches for 34 yards and scored just one total touchdown. He’s been even worse against the Falcons under current head coach Dan Quinn, whose defenses have limited him to just 14 catches for 98 yards with no touchdowns in four games.
So when Quinn tells reporters he knows Cooks better than they do, perhaps he’s onto something. Maybe the professional football coach knows what he’s doing in this one particular department.
“We’re probably more familiar with Cooks than you are,” said Quinn during a Wednesday conference call.READ MORE: Expert Brought In By I-Team Now Helping Saugus Determine Source Of Fly Infestation
On paper it sounds like a snide comment, but he was simply referencing the fact that the Falcons faced Cooks five times in his first three years in the league. But more striking is Cooks’ history of underperforming against Quinn’s defense, which indicates that he knows how to limit him even while facing Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels.
The silver lining is that in Cooks’ only productive game against the Falcons, against ex-head coach Mike Smith in 2014, Drew Brees and the Saints had Jimmy Graham at tight end. It was the only time they had a pass-catching weapon comparable to Rob Gronkowski who could open things up down the field. Cooks caught seven of eight targets for 77 yards and a touchdown in that game, which was his NFL debut.
The Falcons have shown vulnerability in a number of ways in recent years, several of which were on display against the Dolphins last Sunday. But it appears that covering Cooks hasn’t been one of them. It will be interesting to see if Cooks can be more explosive with the Falcons having to account for Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, and the Patriots’ running backs. One of the sneaky-big stories heading into this game is that Cooks has a little something to prove against these guys.
Quinn may yet make mistakes with his clock management and late-game play-calling. But he has good reason to be confident that he has Cooks covered. It’s up to Cooks to finally prove him wrong.MORE NEWS: Boston Nightlife Venue Will Require COVID Vaccine Card Proof Or Masks Due To Delta Variant
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.