Did Jalen Ramsey really “shut down” Amari Cooper?

It is easy to just look at the numbers and draw conclusions from them, but there are so many unseen and unmeasurable factors that go into every football play that it would be foolish to make snap judgments based on numbers alone. In order to learn about what truly is going on, you have to watch film in combination with taking numbers into account.

A recent point of discussion that has come up is whether or not Jalen Ramsey “shut down” Amari Cooper. The former Alabama receiver is in his second year as a professional and is having a fine season. Ramsey is a top-five pick that has flashed his potential as a top corner in the league. They faced off in week 7 and the numbers seem pretty damning for Cooper.

Many fans are looking at those numbers and concluding that Ramsey completely shut Cooper down, however, after watching the film that simply isn’t true. We’re not saying Ramsey didn’t have a good game because he did, but he didn’t play as well as the numbers indicate.

The Raiders gameplay was to attack the much weaker corner on the other side of the field, Prince Amukamara, with Michael Crabtree, who finished the game with 96 yards and a touchdown. Ramsey is already a very good player and there’s no sense in attacking a more difficult match up when the Raiders liked the Amukamara versus Crabtree match-up. For most of the game, Carr did not even attempt to look Cooper’s way. The Raiders were intent on attacking the other side of the ball.

The reality is that the Jaguars primary play Cover-3 zone, not man-to-man coverage. On 19/38 pass plays, they were playing Cover 3, which means that Ramsey’s responsibility was to play over the top, and he received help underneath from linebackers or safeties.

You can’t “shut” someone down if your responsibility isn’t to play the man, but only the deep part of the field. Ramsey did a fine job of staying deep but then again, Cooper didn’t run many deep routes and wouldn’t have been targeted because of the game plan.

Teams typically play more man to man in the red zone, but even in the red zone Ramsey received help to cover Cooper. Here a linebacker helps Ramsey bracket the second-year receiver, by playing the inside of Cooper while Ramsey stays outside. Getting double-team help usually doesn’t happen if a coaching staff is confident that the corner could “shut down” a receiver by himself.

One of the few times that Ramsey was in a true man-to-man situation with Cooper, the Raider receiver beat him badly. Carr didn’t throw the ball to Cooper but he was wide open. Cooper gave him a stutter move to the outside and gained 3-4 steps on him. That is wide open in the NFL.

If these clips aren’t enough to prove to you that Ramsey’s game wasn’t as impressive as the numbers indicate. Ramsey himself admitted to Jacksonville radio host, Tony Wiggins, that Cooper “got him a few times,” but Derek Carr didn’t look his way.

Again, I am not saying that Cooper actually dominated Ramsey. Ramsey had a good game against a really good receiver, but the notion that Ramsey shut Cooper down is simply wrong. A receivers job is to run routes and get open. Cooper did that, he doesn’t control the game plan and he can’t throw himself the ball. Cooper played a good game despite what the numbers say.

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