When the Oakland Raiders began the 2016 season they had a lot of promise. Many people believed that they would be a playoff team. They accomplished that. Some thought that they could win the AFC West, they came up one game short. Now they are trying to advance in the playoffs without their top 2 QBs. Given the success of this season is it possible? I say they can go at least to the divisional round and Connor Cook is the reason.
Connor Cook was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was taken out of Michigan State University where he had a career record of 38-6. This record includes three bowl victories and one bowl loss. Some may view that bowl loss as his downfall going into the draft. Cook also won two Big Ten Championship, 2 Big Ten Championship MVPs, and a Rose Bowl MVP in 2014. All of these accolades lead one to believe that Connor Cook should be ready to take on the NFL game.
These accolades along with the big games that Cook has played in make him battle tested and ready to step in where needed. Cook was not handed the reigns at MSU and certainly was not handed them in Oakland. He was the 3rd team QB all season long. Only due to injury is he in the position he is in. However, he has been in many big games and that is what he needs to lean on going into his first NFL Playoff game. It is the games against Alabama, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Baylor, Oregon and Penn State that he needs to reflect on. If he can recall those experiences and build on them he will be fine on Saturday.
The play calling of the Oakland Raiders offense should also be a crutch for Connor Cook. They should be able to find some success in running the ball. If they can find that success early, then the play action and straight drop passing game should be open. The defense of the Houston Texans is good but they have had their inconsistencies. It is with these inconsistencies that I believe Connor Cook can take advantage of and have success. After all, Romeo Crennel is no Wade Phillips.
The Oakland Raiders are surely facing an uphill climb with their third string QB. I am not saying that Connor Cook will be able to take them any further than past the Wild Card. After all, a date with the Patriots would be on deck barring an upset in Pittsburgh. That is a tall mountain for any QB to climb. I do think that Connor Cook and the Oakland Raiders can get to the Divisional Round.