The Dolphins are leading the AFC East and are preparing to take on another conference opponent in an attempt to reach a 3-0 start. This week, the Oakland Raiders are coming to Hard Rock Stadium in search of their first win of the 2018 season.
Each week of the 2018 season, I’m highlighting one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook.
Experience: 10th season
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 254 lbs
College: South Carolina
Cook has gotten off to a sizzling start this season, showing a strong connection with quarterback Derek Carr in the duo’s second year together. Through two games, Cook has amassed 13 receptions for 229 yards with a yards-per-catch (ypc) average of 17.6. For reference, that ypc figure would place him at third for the 2017 season, only behind the Jaguars’ Keelan Cole (18.4) and the Lions’ Marvin Jones Jr. (18.0). Cook has recorded almost one third of his entire yardage total from last season (688) through just two weeks.
While his pace is sure to drop off, his heavy usage is notable under new (old) Raiders head coach John Gruden. It’s possible that Cook will continue to blossom in a new scheme despite having not topped 700 yards since 2011.
Last season, the Dolphins struggled mightily to defend the tight end position. In fact, Cook racked up 126 yards against Miami last November. Over the course of the 2017 season, the Dolphins were 32nd in the league in receptions allowed to tight ends (94), 31st in yards allowed (1034), and 31st in touchdowns allowed (10).
For the Dolphins to keep Cook in check this time around, the team’s linebacking corps will have to vastly improve it’s coverage of tight ends which was Miami’s largest blemish on defense last season. I would watch for the coaching staff to have Jerome Baker, who is Miami’s quickest linebacker, to cover Cook early and often. That being said, rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has already proved himself a very capable starter on multiple occasions through two games, should be heavily involved in blanketing Cook as well.