Texans’ Brandin Cooks lands in top-25 among red zone receivers in 2021

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Brandin Cooks had the benefit of playing with great quarterbacks throughout his first seven seasons in the NFL.

From 2014-16, Cooks played with Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints. In 2017, Cooks as with the New England Patriots and Tom Brady before spending 2018-19 with the Los Angeles Rams, helping Jared Goff reach a Super Bowl in Cooks’ first season. Even Cooks’ first year with the Houston Texans had him pair up with the eventual NFL passing champion.

No wonder Cooks had five seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards in his first seven years in the NFL.

However, 2021 proved that Cooks isn’t just the product of having a dynamic field general; maybe Cooks is just that good. The former 2014 first-round pick hauled in 90 catches for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns through 16 games. Houston’s quarterback situation was the most unstable Cooks had experienced as Tyrod Taylor started six games and rookie Davis Mills started the other 11.

Cooks managed to make Pro Football Focus’ list of best red zone receivers in 2021 with a 70.4 red zone receiving grade, according to Bryant Horn.

Nine of Cooks’ 10 red-zone targets were open, and he caught seven for 55 yards. He scored just twice in the red zone, but he is part of the group that caught every catchable target.

What excites Cooks about the 2022 campaign is the weaponry the Texans have added in rookie wideout John Metchie, rookie guard Kenyon Green, and rookie running back Dameon Pierce.

“We’ve got a lot of special guys on this side of the ball that we added, not just at the receiver position but in the backfield, whether it’s from tight ends, the offensive line,” Cooks told reporters on May 24 during organized team activities. “I think [general manager] Nick (Caserio) did a great job in the draft and free agent-wise.

“Like I said, the biggest thing that I see right now is that everyone is bought in and everyone’s unselfish. I think that’s where a great offense starts at, just unselfishness.”

If Cooks can continue to be an effective red zone target for Houston, it should help the club climb out of the rebuilding phase and win more than four games for the first time since 2019.