HOUSTON - Brandin Cooks is arguably the Houston Texans’ most valuable offensive player.
And he's definitely the most effective weapon on the lowest-scoring offense in the league.
The veteran wide receiver has 59 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns, also leading the 2-8 Texans with 87 targets and ranks 13th in the NFL in catches and targets.
That’s why it was strange to see Cooks targeted a season-low three times for a season-low two catches for 18 yards during a 22-13 road victory over the Tennessee Titans at rain-soaked Nissan Stadium.
The weather was definitely an element in Cooks not being more involved, which the Texans expect to more of going forward.
“I think there was a lot of things, weather being probably a big factor in that,” Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. “The way the game was going in terms of us wanting to make sure we were controlling the ball and not exposing the football. So, I think there was a number of different factors, nothing anybody was doing to take him away, or nothing that he’s doing. He was open on a couple opportunities, and for whatever reason weren’t able to get the ball to him.”
Cooks, 28, had no receptions after the first half as the Texans offense stumbled in every way except for holding onto the football.
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The Texans had just two completions after the first half on 10 passes for 13 yards.
Acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams last year, has a career 13.9 average and is down to 11.2 yards per reception this season while playing six starts with rookie quarterback Davis Mills.
Cooks ranks third in the NFL with 15 first downs produced on third downs, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and the Minnesota Vikings’ Justin Jefferson with 21 apiece in that category. The Texans, though, didn’t even try a pass over 20 yards against Tennessee and finished 6 of 17 on third down for a 35.3 success rate.
“Yeah, I definitely think his role will get back,” Taylor said. “Obviously, he’s our best receiver and he’s a guy that’s played at a high level for a number of years in this league. Our passing game runs through him. We have to obviously get him the ball to allow him to create plays down the field, even short game as well, too.
“ We were able to get it to him early in the game. It didn’t necessarily pan out the way the game shifted. It kind of changed as the game went on, but we’ll get back to doing that. He means a lot to our offense and means a lot to our success.”
The New York Jets, Sunday’s opponent at NRG Stadium, rank 32nd in pass defense and have allowed 50 catches of 20 yards or longer.
“I mean you see that, but at the same time, it looks more like a communication thing because those guys fly around on that defense and they play at a high level,” Cooks said. “ When you see something explosive, obviously they are there but those guys can run, and they also stop that consistently. We look forward to it.”