I have thought about that throw Michael Vick made to Riley Cooper since the game. Let me be clear that it was a bad throw by Michael Vick. I can understand taking a shot, but the throw has to be higher and deeper so that Cooper and only Cooper would have a chance to bring it down.
Still I want to focus on what Cooper should have done in that situation.
I talked some former NFL receivers about what they would have done in that situation and to a man each says they would have tackled Tramon Williams in necessary and gotten the pass interference penalty, but they wouldn’t have let him catch that football and end the Eagles season.
Cooper chose to assume that Williams couldn’t get up high enough and catch the football, but he had no trouble getting up high enough to get it. As a receiver you got to body up the defensive back and fight for the football. You can’t go behind and him and give him a free shot at catching the football.
It’s a mistake that a rookie would make and that’s why throwing the ball to a rookie in that situation wasn’t the best decision. You’ve got to fight for the football and make them call pass interference. Put the pressure on the referees, who might swallow their whistles in that situation.
I remember Michael Irvin telling me that on a jump ball he would force the referee to call pass interference because he was going to push and pull to get that football. In the future that’s the type of receiver Cooper needs to be. He should be known as a bully, who will physically punish defensive backs who try to get physical with him. If a bigger guy bodies up against a smaller guy, the smaller can’t even jump because the pushing of the bigger guy throws him off balance. Vick should tell Cooper to never let that happen again. He should say, if I throw one up for grabs for you, you have to promise that you’re going to fight for it, like your life depended on it.
Cooper is one of the keys to the Eagles becoming a better and more versatile offense. He could allow them to employ a short passing game with wide receivers operating over the middle in traffic and a speed game where they use DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to go deep.
In the last four or five games, teams decided to force Vick and his speedy receivers to be satisfied with shorter throws. They seemed reluctant to do it and struggled for long period during those games.
The shame of the matter in the pass at the end of the Packers game was that Cooper had come back and intercepted a ball in the Tennessee game, while the defensive back, Chris Hope was patting his glove, waiting and hoping for it to come to him. Cooper was very aggressive on that play, but far too passive on the play that had the Eagles destiny wrapped up in it.
Look at the two pictures. In the Tennessee game he is coming back and attacking the football while the defensive back is waiting for it.
In the Packers game he’s waiting on the football and Williams is plucking it out of the air. He had grabbed one of his arms and pulled down, there was no way he could have caught the ball with one hand.
I’m sure it’s one which he won’t soon forget.