Some of Brandin Cooks’ contributions to the New England Patriots haven’t shown up on the traditional stat sheet this season.
On top of the wide receiver catching 65 passes for 1,082 yards with seven touchdowns this regular season, Cooks also drew five defensive pass interference penalties for 141 yards.
He’s caught nine passes for 132 yards in the postseason, and he drew two defensive pass interference penalties for 68 yards on Sunday in the Patriots’ 24-20 AFC Championship Game win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to move on to Super Bowl LII. The Patriots didn’t draw 209 yards in defensive pass interference penalties all last season.
So, why is Cooks so adept at drawing defensive flags? Patriots head coach Bill Belichick answered that question Monday on WEEI’s “Dale and Holley with Keefe.”
“He’s got a lot of speed,” Belichick said. “He’s quick too, and he’s very quick to get by those corners at the intermediate level in that 12-to-14 yard area. He runs a lot of comebacks and plays like that, so they sometimes — and he caught two or three of those out there, first on (Jaguars cornerback A.J.) Bouye and then later when they moved (cornerback Jalen) Ramsey over on him. I think Josh and Tom did a good job of having the complimentary route of coming down. It wasn’t a double move, it was just kind of a little bit of a hesitation and then he ran by him.
“And then Ramsey got him pretty good, and they got him good in the second quarter on the go route when Bouye pushed him out of bounds. So, his speed’s definitely a factor out there, and you’re right. That’s come up a couple times this year.”
Cooks is a threat to take a catch to the house for a touchdown any time he catches the ball because of his speed. Sometimes it’s smarter for a defender to interfere with the undersized receiver to make sure a play doesn’t result in seven quick points.