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Thread: Watkins: The Cowboys donít have an elite receiver anymore. How much does that matter?

  1. #1
    One-armed Knife Sharpener Iamtdg's Avatar
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    Watkins: The Cowboys donít have an elite receiver anymore. How much does that matter?

    The Cowboys donít have an elite receiver anymore. How much does that matter?



    By Calvin Watkins Jun 21, 2018 11

    The​ Cowboys​ will attempt to​ contend for a playoff berth without​ an elite receiver.

    Do they really need one?

    The Eagles won​​ the Super Bowl last year without a true #1 wideout, utilizing a rising young quarterback and the NFLís new trend, the Run-Pass Option Ė and when he got hurt, leaning on a strong defense. Can the Cowboys do the same?

    Dak Prescott should use the RPO more often in 2018 Ė but we donít yet know if they are part of Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehanís gameplan.

    It wouldnít be hard to utilize RPOs given Zeke Elliottís ability to run power and off the edges for 16 games. The Cowboys also have the most expensive offensive line in the history of the game so employing RPOs is something they can do. It also gives Prescott so many options. He can use it to hand off to Elliott, throw quick slants to Cole Beasley or the newly-acquired Tavon Austin.

    Prescott can drop back and throw deep to Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, or Michael Gallup.

    In other words, the Cowboys have options.

    But are they ready to compete without an elite receiver?

    ďI think our group will pick up the slack,Ē Linehan said. ďI guess whatís considered a true No. 1, I think guys will be No. 1 in specific roles based on plays that we have called and utilize guysí strengths that way. And have good balances the targeting of our skill players in the passing game.Ē

    For decades through the franchiseís history, the Cowboys employed a No. 1 receiver on their teams and saw Super Bowls. Dallas won three titles with Michael Irvin, who used his big frame to protect his quarterback on occasional bad throws and emerged as a big-play threat in a game where bump-and-run coverage was commonplace.

    Alvin Harper and Jay Novacek were just the cherries on top for the passing game. Having Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman didnít hurt either. And before the dominant 90ís group, the Cowboys leaned on ĎBulletí Bob Hayes and Drew Pearson, legends in their own right.

    Thatís the past and it seems the Cowboys live in the past too much around here. As they morph toward training camp in Oxnard, history hovers over this organization like a black cloud.

    If the Cowboys want to move forward with Prescott, heíll need help from his receivers = and the front office needs to forget about having No. 1 wideouts.

    Having an elite receiver isnít necessary. The Eagles won without one last year, and theyíre far from the only organization to do so. Since the 2011 season, only one Super Bowl champion has dedicated more than 8% of its cap to a receiver Ė the 2015 Broncos, who paid Demaryius Thomas $13.2 million (9.1% of the cap) that year.

    Philadelphiaís leading receiver, Nelson Agholor, worked out of the slot and averaged 3.9 receptions per game with eight touchdowns and a team-leading 62 catches. He caught 65.3 percent of passes thrown his way, a far higher number than Dez Bryant did.

    Bryant, the Cowboysí No. 1 receiver last season, was targeted 132 times but only caught 52.3 percent of his passes with six touchdowns. Optimally, you would like a receiverís catch rate to be at least 60%.

    The Cowboys expected more from Bryant considering his massive contract, but health and his attitude got in the way of greatness.

    The Eagles had players with great attitudes such as Alshon Jeffery, who scored nine touchdowns. Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz led the team with 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

    The Eaglesí receiving group in 2018 will have Jeffery, Agholor, Ertz and Mike Wallace.

    Is that better than what the Cowboys will display on Sundays?

    Yes.

    If you listen to Linehan, it appears he believes Austin could turn into a No. 1 threat, with Beasley taking on some of those characteristics too. He can run smoke routes, slants and get the ball out of the backfield. In other words, Austin will provide a little extra juice. The duo caught a combined 49 passes last year, but Linehan believes they are ready for a step up.

    ďHeís Tavon, thatís what he is. Heís Tavon,Ē Linehan said. ďHe can line up anywhere at any time or place. He moves around the meeting rooms upstairs. Sometimes heís going to be in the backfield, sometimes heís going to be a receiver. Weíre working a lot of situations right now, where we need the depth at receiver, more so than at running back because we work a lot of stuff, third-down situations, you might see. Heís going to be in a lot of unpredictable spots, to be honest with you.Ē

    The Cowboys donít have a No. 1 receiver on the roster. It seems strange seeing how theyíve employed Joey Galloway, Miles Austin, Terrell Owens and Bryant.

    For over a decade now, somebody was the No. 1 guy.

    Now a bunch of twos and threes will get their opportunity to move up.
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

  2. #2
    Senior Member shoop's Avatar
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    Alshon Jeffery is a number one if you use him like one and he stays healthy.

  3. #3
    Administrator boozeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoop View Post
    Alshon Jeffery is a number one if you use him like one and he stays healthy.
    He is about as effective as a number one as Bryant would be at this stage. Very limited player. Luckily, the Eagles have a well designed offense to compensate.

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    Senior Member DLK150's Avatar
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    Since they're referring to Dez, he hasn't been elite for awhile now. He basically became an (unreliable) possession receiver/red zone target, a glorified TE labeled as a WR1. At least IMHO.

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  6. #5
    Senior Member ravidubey's Avatar
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    #1 WRs arenít chosen, they emerge because theyíre the best option.

    Towards the end, Dez wasnít even a good option for Dak. Maybe another QB, but not Dak.

    Spreading the ball around is fine so long as the offense is still able to generate at least three 25+ yard pass plays.

    If you canít, then you suck and donít deserve playoff success. Not unless you have a great defense.

  7. #6
    Senior Member p1_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravidubey View Post
    so long as the offense is still able to generate at least three 25+ yard pass plays.
    Over what span of games? A whole season? That seems damned paltry to me.
    Sitting on .500

  8. #7
    Senior Member L.T. Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravidubey View Post
    #1 WRs aren’t chosen, they emerge because they’re the best option.

    Towards the end, Dez wasn’t even a good option for Dak. Maybe another QB, but not Dak.

    Spreading the ball around is fine so long as the offense is still able to generate at least three 25+ yard pass plays.

    If you can’t, then you suck and don’t deserve playoff success. Not unless you have a great defense.
    Training camp should go a long way toward determining who is a likely candidate for the #1 WR spot.
    Since Day One

  9. #8
    Senior Member ravidubey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p1_ View Post
    Over what span of games? A whole season? That seems damned paltry to me.
    Each game!

    You have to do this to be considered elite.

    In 2016 the Cowboys were among the worst in the league at 25+ yard pass plays, which was a telling sign. Their leading the league in 10+ yard running plays masked their passing weakness.

  10. #9
    Senior Member ravidubey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.T. Fan View Post
    Training camp should go a long way toward determining who is a likely candidate for the #1 WR spot.
    Yeah, we're starting from scratch. If Dak can make this work, pay the man.

    If the excuses continue to pile up, give him the Kirk Cousins treatment.

  11. #10
    Senior Member p1_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.T. Fan View Post
    Training camp should go a long way toward determining who is a likely candidate for the #1 WR spot.
    Hurns.
    Sitting on .500

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