Defensively, Chicago had some coverage breakdowns in week one. Atlanta tight end Austin Hooper broke off for a couple of big plays, but for the most part, star receiver Julio Jones was locked down. The Falcons barely even looked his way, and Marcus Cooper played a big role in that. He and Kyle Fuller combined to cover Jones, holding him to four catches for 66 yards. With that in mind, it’s likely that the combination may be tasked with covering Mike Evans this Sunday. For that, Cooper becomes a deciding player for this week’s game.
The Bucs have far more weapons on offense this year, making it less of a necessity to force the ball to Evans all the time. Even still, he is the guy Jameis Winston will continue to look for in crunch time. Third down and red zone targets will still go Evans’ way, so Cooper’s performance is pivotal for the Bears defense. If he takes Evans away, it will test Winston’s rapport with his new weapons, as well as Cameron Brate. It’s feasible to think that the Buccaneers can still get by without a big day from Evans, but they may have to alter their game plan a bit if Cooper shows up in a big way.
Cooper is someone who can make big plays. He nearly came up with a game-changing pick six in week one. It ended up as a pass breakup, but those type of ball skills could lead to a splash play this Sunday. With Winston being turnover-prone, the Bears defense may be itching to jump some passes to force takeaways and turn momentum. Chicago will need several splashy plays to get past Tampa Bay on Sunday. But, the defense may be able to count on Cooper to come up with a couple.