How the Raiders should use Connor Cook and what to expect from him

06 December 2015: Oakland Raiders Derek Carr, Marcel Reece and coach Jack Del Rio ( pictured L-R ) celebrate a Raiders touchdown during action in an NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA. The Chiefs won 34-20. (Photograph by Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire)

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Oakland Raiders expect that Connor Cook will start against the Houston Texans on Sunday as Matt McGloin is unlikely to be ready in time. Here’s a look at what the Raiders should ask Cook to do and what they can expect from their rookie quarterback.

AS A LEADER

What the Raiders should do:

It’s debatable what about Derek Carr is missed the most, his talent on the field or his leadership off of the field. The most stunning part of the loss to Denver in week 17 was how defeated the Raiders looked from the very start of the game. It was clear that losing their emotional leader was having an impact. For Saturday, the Raiders should make it very clear to Cook that no one expects him to come in and be a leader on this team from day one.

What the Raiders should expect:

Probably not a whole lot. One of Cook’s knocks coming out of college was that he wasn’t a good leader with rumors floating that he was not even the captain of his own team at Michigan State. But that aside, you just can’t expect a rookie with no experience to be a leader out of the gate. In order to lead, you need to earn the respect of those you are trying to lead. I’m not saying that Cook isn’t respected, I’m just saying the kind of respect needed to be a leader takes time to build and Connor Cook simply hasn’t had that time yet.

AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE

What the Raiders should do:

The Raiders should really let Rodney Houston make all of the protection calls on Saturday. Normally, he and Carr split this duty but Cook will already have a lot on his plate and the more you can simplify things the better. Plus, this is the benefit of having such a great starting center, Hudson is more than capable of taking this role over and helping the rookie.

As for audibles, I would give very little leeway to Connor Cook if I were the Raiders. Perhaps give him a play call and one additional option to audible to (a run to a pass or vice versa) just to keep defenses honest. For example, if on first down Cook sees nine guys in the box, he will have the option to audible to a pass. Or on third and five if there are only four or five guys in the box, he can audible to a run. Besides that, limit his role at the line of scrimmage as much as possible.

What the Raiders can expect:

Not a whole lot here. The Raiders didn’t even give Carr much responsibility at the line of scrimmage early in his career. As the third string quarterback, the number of reps you get all season is minimal at best. Connor Cook simply doesn’t know the offense well enough to be able to make complex calls at the line of scrimmage.

IN THE PASSING GAME

What the Raiders should do:

A focus on quick and easy passes should be the primary game plan, but the Raiders also need to take some shots down field in order to keep the Texans defense honest.  To keep Cook calm and get him going, the Raiders should do a lot of bubble screen plays to guys like Amari Cooper early. Get  Cook in a rhythm with high percentage passes and hope that Cooper can use his skills to get yards after the catch. But the Raiders also need to

What the Raiders should expect:

Cook’s biggest issues that needs to be worked on are mechanics and accuracy. And of course, like pretty much any rookie quarterback, Cook struggles when pressured and also has some issues picking up blitzes. Cook has shown plenty of promise but has also shown plenty of rookie mistakes. You can’t expect too much out of him in the passing game this quickly, but you will also likely be surprised now and again by rather impressive throws.

CONCLUSION

The Raiders shouldn’t ask too much of Connor Cook, nor should they expect too much out of Connor Cook. This is a game where the Raiders will need their quarterback to just try not to make big mistakes and hope the rest of the team and a good game plan can win them the day.

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james arcellana

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