Miami, Florida on February 2nd. 2020. That’s when and where Super Bowl LIV (54) will be played — and after two straight heart-breaking losses back-to-back years in the NFL Playoffs, it’s where the New Orleans Saints hope that they will be when the 2019 NFL Season comes to an end.
And to get there, the Black and Gold and specifically head coach Sean Payton, are well aware of the one player currently on the team who can become the difference maker that finally puts them “over the top” and helps them win a title before QB Drew Brees eventually retires in a few years.
That player is 10th year NFL veteran tight end Jared Cook. and while discussing Cook during a recent radio interview, Payton told Sirius/XM NFL Radio, that the 32-year old former free agent whom they signed this past March in 2019 NFL Free Agency a few months back, is the guy they definitely coveted the most.
“Anytime you’re in free agency, you gather as much information as you can. And then when the player arrives, there’s certain things you weren’t aware of that are good and maybe sometimes weren’t so good. In his case, it’s all positive,” said Payton, who has raved about Cook and has praised him for his athletic skill-set as well as his ability to make additional yardage down the field after catching the football — which Payton said comes from Cook’s tireless and unrelenting work ethic.
“He’s a tremendous worker, dedicated, I think someone who’s a true pro in every sense of the word. And I think he’s been a really good addition for us.”
There are reasons that many NFL observers believe this upcoming 2019 NFL Season that begins for New Orleans this Monday Night at the Superdome vs. the Houston Texans on ESPN Monday Night Football, could be a big season for Cook.
Most notably of them all is the fact that Cook just recently had huge success last season when he played for the Oakland Raiders; where he experienced huge success in Jon Gruden’s offense, a scheme that’s very similar to what Payton runs in NOLA.
In fact, older Saints fans might recall that Payton and Gruden coached together as young offensive assistants with the Philadelphia Eagles under Andy Reid (now with the Kansas City Chiefs), in the late 1990’s. So the two offensive systems of both teams are essentially the same.
Another reason is that Cook will now have the ageless Brees at his quarterback, who of course will be a future first-ballot NFL Hall of Famer and whose elite-caliber passing ability (such as touch and accuracy) while “throwing open” receivers on intermediate routes, will be precisely the type of routes that Cook will be running.
“He’s the G.O.A.T. in a lot of people’s minds, including mine,” Cook said Cook said to the local NOLA media recently.. “I’ve watched him my whole career tear up defenses, so it’s still surreal that I get to play with him. So, of course, it’s going to be exciting our first game together.”
“It’s all about the preparation,” Cook said, “The more you go into a game plan knowing what to do, knowing what your quarterback is going to check to or tell you before he even says it, I think the preparation in that aspect gives you a step above the competition.”
After putting together one of the more notable stand out performances of the team’s recently-completed 2019 training camp, Cook is poised to have a very productive season in his first year with the Black and Gold. The Saints offense could become absolutely lethal as a direct result; so much so in fact, that it could see them finish ranked atop the League at #1 overall.
It’s become pretty apparent since his arrival that the 32-year old former University of South Carolina pass-catcher extraordinaire has a whole lot of proverbial gas left in his tank.
Jared Cook is one of the standout performers in #Saints training camp so far. With Michael Thomas back in the mix, Cook is primed for even more big plays in the future. @FOX8NOLA pic.twitter.com/rv9gta7O19
— Garland Gillen (@garlandgillen) August 8, 2019
Cook has made highlight play after highlight play ever since his arrival, and playing with Brees in Payton’s offensive scheme should provide Cook with a golden opportunity to put up numbers that could actually exceed his production last season with the Raiders, when he caught 68 passes on 101 total targets for 896 yards and 6 TDs.
— Garland Gillen (@garlandgillen) July 28, 2019
In his 10 NFL seasons, the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Cook has played in 149 games (with 77 starts) and has caught 425 receptions (on 711 total targets) for 5.464 yards and 25 TDs. Cook still can beat many linebackers and safeties, and his NBA power forward-like size makes him too big to defend one-on-one against most undersized defenders.
With teams focused on stopping Saints offensive superstars WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara, it potentially leaves Cook with an advantage and the opportunity to utilize his distinctive capabilities to completely embarrass opposing defenders in open space.
Clearly, that’s what’s been happening throughout the off-season since his arrival in New Orleans, and after he was given the last two games of the preseason off so that he could be fully rested and ready for the start of the new season, Cook can be the difference-maker that the Black and Gold needs to reach their ultimate goal.
A goal that both they and loyal Who Dat fans everywhere, hope takes them to that date (February 2nd, 2020) down in Miami Florida in about 6 more months from now….