Chris Cooley is fast

This is becoming an impromptu Chris Cooley week, what with his hot pants and contract talks, though I ask that reader(s) bear with me. A very good friend of mine has on occasion told me that he's impressed with Chris Cooley, but the guy just doesn't appear all that fast. I've always maintained that he's fast enough, I mean he isn't a WR, he's not Santana Moss, but by TE standards he isn't slow. To wit:

Check it out around 1:56 remaining (or try 1:28 remaining -- better yet: 1:00 remaining), and you'll see a guy who is absolutely fast enough.

Anyways, credit to Football Outsiders commenters for noticing this nugget from the recent Chris Cooley contract piece at the Times that I thought deserved mention:

With most of the contract minutiae being handled for him, Cooley has been more involved this offseason in working with Jason Campbell and learning the nuances of associate head coach Al Saunders' offense.
    "The thing Chris has done a terrific job of doing in terms of elevating his play is the speed he plays at and his ability to run routes," Saunders said. "His route running ability and ability to separate from defenders has gotten better and better. ... He has mastered [the route running] at this point and does it in a proficient fashion."
The way Cooley runs routes is different than how he ran them at Utah State and in his first two seasons with the Redskins. On a 10-yard in route, he used to run to the spot, shuffle his feet, make a head and/or shoulder fake and then turn inside. Now, he runs to the spot and turns inside instantly without losing any momentum.
"He has the intelligence to adapt to anything and has good instincts and awareness," tight ends coach Rennie Simmons said. "Everything now with our routes are speed cuts instead of teaching the receiver to set the defender up with fakes and movement. It's become more critical that the receiver and the quarterback are on the same timing."
This slight difference in route running is one reason we should believe insistences by Todd Collins, among others, that the Al Saunders offense takes a year or so to learn. There are a lot of little things he does differently, to great effect, and speed cuts are one of them. The offense is predicated on timing and there were some concerns that Mark Brunell's patting of the ball wasn't helping one bit to that end.

This is a learning experience for all involved, as it isn't merely the tight end who has to get used to new routes, but the quarterback throwing him the ball. And as the article notes, Jason Campbell and Chris Cooley seem to have it figured out. The two connected multiple times at practice and I thank the Times for this interesting contrast of Cooley's production with Jason vs. with Mark Brunell:

Cooley became one of Campbell's top targets once the then-second-year quarterback took over for Mark Brunell. In the nine games Brunell started, Cooley had 27 catches for 323 yards (11.9 average) and three touchdowns. In seven games with Campbell, he had 30 catches for 411 yards (13.7 average) and three touchdowns.
This is going to be an entertaining tandem to watch all next season, as Chris Cooley could really step up both his receptions and overall game. The stats already tell us that Al Saunders is getting Cooley involved in the downfield passing game more. In spite of catching nearly 10% less of the passes thrown his way (nevermind having fewer passes thrown his way overall), Cooley increased his YPC by two full yards. He doubled his 20+ receptions and picked up two 40+ yard receptions.

We found out that Chris Cooley was dangerous in short yardage in 2005. We found out that he was dangerous on big plays last year. I predict opposing defenses will continue to have fits trying to cover Chris, especially as he builds rapport with quarterback Jason Campbell in Year 2 of the Al Saunders offense.

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