Jared Cook: The X-Factor

Titans fans experienced a top 10 moment in Titans highlight history when Vince Young took the team 99-yards against Arizona for the game-winning score.  One of the beautiful things about “The Drive” was how well the young receivers answered the call and made that drive a success, when it had about a 1.6% chance of succeeding.  With the attention-starved Bo Scaife sitting out practices at the moment, let’s not give Scaife the attention he wants and instead focus on one of the young receivers from “The Drive” and the X-factor for the 2010 Titans offense: Jared Cook.

Reasons why he will succeed:

1. He’s too big to fail.  The man is 6’5″, 246 lbs, runs a 4.5 40 and plays in an offense that loves its tight ends…if he doesn’t have a breakout season with the Titans, it’s not going to happen anywhere.

2. He’s healthy.  Cook started the preseason outperforming everyone on the depth chart in a few games, but a foot injury severely limited his impact on the regular season.

3. He’s clutch. The highlight of his entire season was the 2 receptions for 29 yards he had on “The Drive,” but hey, what a time to come through!  He could have totally pulled a Brandon Jones and dropped those passes in the clutch, but he didn’t, so that’s a major plus for me.

4. Bo Scaife.  There’s a decent chunk of Titans fans out here hoping Scaife just kind of never comes back.  Can’t really blame them, and I’ll get into that later.  But if Scaife keeps up his bizarre behavior if and when he shows up to training camp, it could really piss of Jeff Fisher even more than he already is, which would pave the way for more reps for Cook.

Let's hope Jared Cook isn't happy with just being a Madden Guy.

Reasons why he will fail (but hopefully won’t):

1. People have been waiting for his breakout year for 2 years now.  Scouts have raved about his hands, size, and athleticism ever since he got to South Carolina, but he slid in the draft because he didn’t have the breakout junior year they were all hoping for.  If Cook doesn’t figure out how to translate his skills into NFL success, he’ll just be a Madden Guy.  Ben Troupe was a great Madden Guy, someone who totally sucked in real life but was inexplicably awesome in Madden.  Troupe was also great at letting our imaginations run wild, enabling fans to keep hoping for that one day he wakes up and just gets it.  Ben Troupe is now unemployed.

2. The Titans haven’t made a good 3rd round pick since Erron Kinney.  Kinney was a serviceable blocking tight end during his days in two-toned blue.  He was also drafted 10 years ago.  The 3rd round pick in general is one of the biggest crapshoots of the draft, as there hasn’t been a Pro Bowler from the 3rd round since Frank Gore and Justin Tuck in 2005.  Compare that to how the fifth and sixth rounds have produced a Pro Bowler in 4 of the past 5 drafts, and the 3rd round is just a big toss-up.

3. Bo Scaife.  Not a huge Scaife fan, if you haven’t noticed.  The more snaps Scaife gets means less for Jared Cook.  Scaife is an above-average tight end, Vince’s security blanket, and is proven, but I really really want to see what Cook can do.  Seeing what Vernon Davis did for the 49ers offense last season (and my fantasy team) makes me crave that explosive weapon not named Chris Johnson that much more.  If Coach Fisher lets a healthy Jared Cook loose on the field, it would go a long way in taking the kid gloves off the Titans passing attack.

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  • http://titansized.com dreWells

    I’m actually a huge Cook fan, despite being similarly bitten by Troupe (I love the Madden-talk, I too was guilty of using him and hoping for a day when he reached those expectations).

    BUT, I disagree about Scaife. I think he’s been under-appreciated and we need them both to perform to open up a dynamic passing attack.

    Great article!

  • http://titansized.com kent wilson

    hey matt, just one note man. We have only been waiting for him to breakout for one year which was last season since he was a rookie. All good though, im a huge Cook fan and he will start this year providing he can stay healthy. only thing i didnt really like is that people for some reason write off a player if they didnt make a splash their rookie season, which is bullshit if you ask me. Mcnair, Finnegan, Fat Albert, Tony Brown etc all didnt see starting time until at least their 3rd year except for albert and even then he didnt put up numbers worth mentioning til his 3rd year. anywho, loved the article man, take care.

  • cody

    I think matt was including his final year at SC. Because they were expecting him to realy break out that year as hands down the best tight end in recent years. Because he had that potential. I thought the same thing you were thinking at first but I read it again to make sure and I saw what matt was talking about. I agree that Cook could be the final piece to there puzzle if he comes around this year. Well actually all he has to do is get on the field and do what we heard about him doing all last years training camp. VY CJ Britt and Cook. With our steady offensive line and not to mention solid vets like Gage and possibly Washington if he can remember how to catch. And don’t forget 3rd rounder Williams is said to have the best routes in the draft this year. I’m saying that if we fire on all cylinders we could be unstopable. 11 wins is reasonable if u look at the scedule. And we were the team no one wanted to play in the playoffs last year…had we made it. I’m fn pumped for this year more than I ever have been in may. And hell our defense can only get better compared to last year. I think your right how a lot of our guys don’t hit there primr until about year 3 but let’s face it…Cook is ahead of the curve for a tight end. Had he not been hurt with an ankle injury I think he would have had ahuge impact as a rookie

  • cody

    Oh and by the way matt that was a great article. And I too have cook as my number 1 tight end for madden. Use phillys offensive play book. Tell me what u think. Or run n gun. Haha but again nice article he is one of the titans I am most excited to see this year. Id like to see more Britt and how Williams can make an impact at special teams and hopefully receiver. Mostly VY and Cook though. Vince loves his tight ends when he is in a hurry

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattafact Matt Johnson

    Thanks guys, glad you liked the piece!

    Drew, I liked Scaife a lot but now that he’s overpaid and disgruntled, his favorability has taken a hit and I’ve started to scrutinize him more. I’m still not sure if Vince’s low passing numbers are because of accuracy problems or because of the 3 yard plays to Scaife that are called 10 times a game, so I think putting Cook out there would do wonders in making the offense more explosive. Ideally, we could use them both..but I think Scaife is starting to resent the idea of competition.

    Kent, totally agree. Especially since Cook was a third round pick, he’s obviously a little raw and in need of more development. He needed some maturation time, but I think he’s ready for prime time now.

    Thanks Cody for clearing that up for me, I meant to say he’s had high expectations in his junior year at SC AND his rookie year with the Titans. Philly playbook eh? I’ll have to try that out. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve won online thanks to Jared Cook wide open in the middle of the field!