By Nick Shook
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Brandin Cooks is fast — really fast.
This isn’t new information. But his 87-yard touchdown catch on Sunday showed the Saints don’t mind taking advantage of his speed, which has now become historic. Cooks became the first player in league history to score touchdowns of 85 yards or more in his team’s first five games on Sunday.
“I turn it into a track meet,” Cooks said, via The Times-Picayune. “It feels like you get the baton handed off to you and you just run. On the track, you’re not looking around, you’re just going. So, that’s what I feel like is my vision.”
Of the top five fastest players on touchdown receptions in 2016, Cooks owns two of the best speeds, hitting 22.13 mph on his 98-yard touchdown reception in Week 1, and 21.89 mph on his score Sunday, per Next Gen Stats. He’s third in the league through six weeks in total distance as a ball carrier on passing plays with 231.62 yards (A.J. Green is the leader with 299.41 yards). That doesn’t include the yards he covers running routes before the catch.
Is it alarming that the Saints have found themselves deep enough in their own territory to record such long touchdowns? Mildly. What is more worrisome (for opposing defenses) is the threat Cooks brings to the field. His top-end speed requires safety help at almost all times, which should open up more options for Drew Brees and Co. underneath. It did on Sunday, as Brees passed for 465 yards and four touchdowns, and it has almost all season, with New Orleans currently leading the league in passing yards per game (335.4).
The Saints‘ defense is bad — 31st in the league bad. But with a weapon in Cooks, along with promising wideouts Michael Thomas and Willie Snead, Brees has enough options to at least attempt to keep pace with opponents.