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If Activated, Where Would Rico Gathers Fit Offensively?

Brian Martin

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If Activated, Where Does Rico Gathers Fit Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys and their fans have already seen a seasons worth of disappointment through their first five games of the 2017 season. There seems to be a cloud of negativity surrounding this year's squad, so any good news is  definitely a welcomed addition. That is why all of Cowboys Nation might be excited to learn that tight end Rico Gathers is eligible to return to practice.

According to NFL rules, teams are able to designate two different players they have placed on injured reserve and bring them back during the season. Rico Gathers is a prime candidate to be one of these players for the Cowboys and is eligible to start practicing with the team after missing six weeks of the season. But, he cannot be added to the active roster until after Week 8 is completed.

With the NFL season entering Week 7, Gathers can now get back on the practice field with the Cowboys. In fact, he did just that Wednesday, although in a limited fashion.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Rico Gathers has returned to working with Cowboys athletic trainers

This is certainly a step in the right direction for Rico Gathers, and quite possibly the Dallas Cowboys as well. Gathers now has two more weeks to get back into football shape and prove to the coaching staff he is worth adding to the active roster.

The Cowboys offense hasn't been terrible by any means, but they could definitely use more production from the tight end position. Future Hall of Famer Jason Witten leads the team in receptions with 27, but is only averaging a measly 8.5 yards per reception. James Hanna and Geoff Swaim have just one reception between the two of them, although it did result in Hanna standing alone in the end zone.

Rico Gathers could possibly add a much needed spark to the tight end position if activated. He looked really impressive during the Cowboys first two preseason games, catching seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, his preseason was cut short due to the previous mentioned concussion.

Rico Gathers, Rams

TE Rico Gathers

Now, as much as I would like to see Gathers added to the active roster, I just don't know where he would fit in the offensive game plan. All three TEs ahead of him on the depth chart are more reliable/prepared at this point in their careers, but none of them have his playmaking ability.

Would the Cowboys be willing to keep four tight ends on the active roster and how many would they have available on game days? Who would be the odd man out? These are questions the Cowboys coaching staff will have to answer before making such a big decision.

Roster spots become more and more valuable as the season progresses. Carrying four TEs on the roster may be a luxury they can't afford. But, if they believe Rico Gathers can be another offensive weapon and perhaps a difference maker, it's an easy decision.

Gathers is after all 6'8" and a mismatch for any defensive back to cover anywhere on the field, especially in the red zone. He still needs work with his blocking, but adding yet another weapon in the passing game for Dak Prescott could help the entire offense be even more dangerous.

I'm personally torn on whether or not Rico Gathers should be added to the active roster. Thankfully, I'm not the one that has to make the decision.

What kind of offensive role do you think Rico Gathers can have with the Dallas Cowboys? Let me hear your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below or hit me up on Twitter @BrianMartinNFL.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Fatfan

    easy decision for me…activate AND utilize Gathers. Who wouldn’t want his playmaking ability on the field.

    • Brian Martin

      I just wonder if OC Scott Linehan can find a way to work him into the game plan. He hasn’t been all that creative already this season. Plus, the Cowboys might need to add more depth to the defensive side of the ball. It’s a really a tosssup for me.

  • Travis Diggs

    At this point you have to get him in there. What do you have to lose?? While this offense is potent at times, they are pretty predictable in most situations. Every fan at home knows where the ball is going which hurts to watch some games knowing the defense sees it too. Dez only runs three routes, t will is average, and witten’s routes are limited. We still have some good Defenses on the schedule(PHI twice, KC, SEA, NY) We have to get as creative as possible because this offense has to carry this team to a playoff run.

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, the only problem with what you said is the bottom denominator… Scott Linehan. I’m not sure if he’s capable of finding ways of getting creative with Gathers. He’s already predictable enough with the pieces he has and I’m not sure that would change unfortunately. I can honestly come up with convincing arguments for why to activate Gathers and why not to. I think they probably will because he is such a matchup problem, but I’m not sure how involved he will end up being.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Wondering if Zeke going on suspension, be the slot that becomes available for Rico Gathers to be activated. Or simply, Zeke gets his Brady extension and one of the veteran RBs gets cut. “Come on down, Rico!” When you look at who has been cut so far this season, it has mostly been on the defensive side. Maybe it is time for the offense to chop somebody and send them on their way. I could also see Rico go for three weeks and then go back on IR for the rest of the year.

    • Brian Martin

      The Dallas Cowboys currently have four TEs on the roster after calling up Blake Jarwin from the PS. I kind of doubt Rico Gathers is activated this year. I think the only way that happens is if there was an injury to the position. I don’t think Zeke’s suspension situation has anything to do with it.

      I’m not sure what they will do with the vet RBs. Likely just keep them for insurance unless they need to add some more depth at another position because of injuries a little later in the season.

      Also, the reason we see more moves being made on the defensive side of the ball is because it is much more unsettled compared to the offense.

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Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

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Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overreaction in the NFL, and fans and the media alike can be very fickle. Thus, when the Dallas Cowboys were beaten by the Carolina Panthers in week one the discussions surrounding their title credentials began, and even more so because Dak Prescott and his Cowboys offense was only able to score 8 points. He left the stadium still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season and wondering what went wrong.

By all accounts, Prescott wasn’t great, and his quarterback rating of 81.1 reflects that. His performance left the fans concerned and some asserting there were no shades of the Prescott of 2016. Nonetheless, a quarterback has to be helped by his offensive line, and allowing him to get sacked six times shows that improvement is needed up front.

In week 2, against the New York Giants, Prescott started the game with a booming 64-yard touchdown pass to WR Tavon Austin on the first series of the game. It was a play four whole quarters of football in the making and made fans explode in celebration following the lackluster performance against CAR. Prescott's rating jumped to 95.4 and he wasn't sacked during the contest. Even still, he threw the ball for 10 fewer yards than in week 1 and was 1.5% less on his completion percentage too.

Prescott’s best defense is the Cowboys' lack of stand-out wide receivers. The loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – neither of whom has adequately been replaced – is the biggest cause of this perceived fall from grace. Those departures have undeniably created a problem, but one that many great quarterbacks over the years have managed to overcome.

While the doom and gloom felt by Cowboys Nation after week 1 has abated some with a victory over New York, for a franchise that has enjoyed the often wow-worthy play of Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has a way to go yet, to say the least.

Dak Prescott's Top 10 Plays of the Dallas Cowboys' 2016 Season

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The current situation is difficult for the Cowboys, but there are also psychological mitigations. One of these is their presence in a division with the reigning Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles.

This has long since put the Cowboys on the back foot in the futures betting markets, with an average moneyline price of +210 that makes them the least likely team to win the NFC East division. Unlike betting on individual games themselves, the futures market is a starker reflection of a team's form, rather than the more reactionary moneyline prices on individual games.

Criticism, from experts and fans alike, always intensifies after a defeat, and starting the season off at 1-1 isn't always enough to overcome said criticism. So too will the moneyline price of the Cowboys besting the Eagles lengthen, although the rewards for keeping faith in the Cowboys to do that – if they somehow do – will be all the more greater if they proceed to underachieve.

NFC East Preview 2018 | T2F Podcast

On this episode, we are joined by Jon Cassel, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, to discuss each team in the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles) going into the 2018 season. SUBSCRIBE to T2F for more football content! SUPPORT us through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Time2Football Follow us on social media!

Dak Prescott Needs Support Like Never Before

The likes of Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be reaching the Hall of Fame, but they are more than capable of helping Dallas score more than 8 points in a game. Take away the opening-drive shot from week 2, the only TD pass Dak has thrown in 2018, and the Cowboys scored just 13 points against the Giants. It's hardly confidence inspiring, yet.

There have been numerous points so far where the Prescott of 2016 would have found the receiver, but for whatever reason, those throws just aren’t being made with any consistency right now. That is especially bad considering the breathing room that is given by an elite level running back, which can be found in the form of Ezekiel Elliott.

Zeke got the ball 15 times for 69 yards against CAR and 17 times for 78 yards against NYG, both of which have to be less than he would have liked. Yet, the Panthers were out to stop him, specifically, and the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t cope, which allowed Elliott to lack effectiveness and their quarterback to be put to the ground half a dozen times. The opening drive against the Giants certainly helped alleviate pressure on Prescott, but it's clear that the defense beat the Giants, overall.

These, however, are problems that an offensive coordinator needs to overcome, and Scott Linehan didn’t cover himself in glory either.

Ultimately, above all else, there seems to be a bit of disunity within the offense. The receivers feel unloved, the running backs face a lot of defenders on each play, and the quarterback must improve his accuracy.

These situations are where you need creative play calling and a unique approach.

Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott: Top 5 Moments of The 2016 Cowboys Season

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Spirit of 2016 Can Still Make an Impact

With every defeat, the next game is hugely important, in the mind if not on paper. If the Cowboys can step up and convincingly rack up some wins, then – as ever – it will start to go quiet.

One aspect that sometimes goes overlooked is the defense. Conceding 16 points against Carolina and 13 against New York should usually be more than low enough to secure a win. Thus, if the Cowboys keep up that level of performance, then they should win a lot more games than they lose. But that's because most offenses in the NFL are capable of scoring 20-or-more points a game. With the Cowboys defense performing as they have been thus far, the onus is on the offense the close out games.

There's a reason the quarterback position is regarded far above all others, and Prescott needs to carry the team with him to keep that winning feeling in the Cowboys’ locker room.

He needs to give the opposition’s defensive line more to think about, and make them fear the pass as much as Elliott’s or his own rushing ability. That will give his receivers more confidence and Elliott more space. If his offensive line isn’t doing its job then he and Linehan need to think of ways to get the ball out quickly and on target.

Doom and gloom often surrounds any first loss of a season, but if Prescott and Elliott can work together as they did in their first win of the season, then it’s going to be very hard to beat them, especially if their defense keeps playing to such high standards as they have.

Regardless, the Super Bowl is anything but a lock at this point, and the problems need to be fixed quickly, before "distant" becomes mathematically "impossible."



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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

Brian Martin

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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

In a somewhat confusing move, the Dallas Cowboys decided to re-add Wide Receiver Brice Butler to the roster in order to get something more out of the passing game, which to be honest has been pretty putrid in the first two games of the 2018 season. Something needed to be done, but I'm not sure that Butler is the answer.

I'm going to agree with my fellow Staff Writer, Jess Haynie, in saying that the Cowboys decision to reunite with Brice Butler makes no sense. Jess is actually much more polite than I would've been when I initially found out about this transaction. I personally hate the move and I'm not afraid to say it. But ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make and the only thing that really matters here is whether or not Butler can help improve the passing game?

With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys receivers, Butler's addition just adds another one. Unfortunately, we are two games into the 2018 season and the receiver position still remains the biggest unknown. No one has really stepped up their game and with the exception of Tavon Austin's touchdown catch last week, there hasn't been any big plays in the passing game.

I don't really know how Brice Butler is supposed to improve things. Is he supposed to be the "go to" receiver now? Is he any better than what the Cowboys already have on the roster? Or, will he end up being more of a progress stopper? Like I said, he just adds more questions to be answered.

I for one don't see any upside in adding Butler. Yes, Quarterback Dak Prescott has a bond with him, but nothing ever really materialized there when #19 was here previously. He showed flashes, like he has at all of his stops in the NFL, but his inconsistencies couldn't convince the coaching staff to play him more. So, what's changed?

Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler

The obvious answer here would be the subtraction of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the passing game. That's quite a bit of production missing that has yet to be accounted for. But again, I am still not buying into the Butler addition as a solution.

I know it sounds like I'm slamming Brice Butler pretty hard, but there was a time when I wanted to see him on the field more. Like many of you, the past few seasons I wanted to see him receive a promotion over Terrance Williams, but unfortunately that never happened. But, that was then and this is now.

Personally, I would much rather see Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, or Michael Gallup be worked more into the offensive game plan. I just feel that we have already seen what Brice Butler has to offer and it just wasn't good enough for him to stick around before. It's time to move forward, not back.

There is a reason Butler was a free agent. I mean, he wasn't even good enough to stick with Arizona Cardinals, who probably have more problems at WR than the Cowboys. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up being wrong and he'll finally play up to his true potential and talent. Wouldn't that be great?

Now, this is just one person's opinion, but I just don't see Brice Butler improving the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys. I think the only way that happens is if Dak Prescott reaches the next phase in his development. Until then, I don't see things improving much. But, that's an article for another time.

How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys reuniting with Brice Butler?



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Despite Seattle’s Record, Sunday Is No Cakewalk For Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David Irving 2

As Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-ending pick six on national television Monday night, all of Cowboys Nation was suddenly giddy.

Somehow, the team which looked completely lost and inept offensively to open the season was now staring down a chance at a 3-1 start if they could take care of back-to-back winless teams.

The first of those winless foes being the Seattle Seahawks.

Though the last 5 years or so have conditioned us to believe that Seattle is a defensive minded, physical football team, more recent history suggests they’ve fallen off quite a bit. No longer are prime Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor patrolling their secondary, or are waves of top tier defensive linemen cycling through during the game.

Now, the Seahawks are defined by a shaky offensive line, a lack of playmakers on the perimeter, and Russell Wilson hero-ball.

It’s an odd, and typically ineffective formula for winning games, but it’s the one the 0-2 Seahawks are currently stuck with.

Despite all of this, however, Sunday’s game will be an important test for the Cowboys. Though they were favored by 3 points last week, this game is the first time in 2018 that Dallas is truly “expected” to win. Ironically, they come in as Vegas underdogs, but it’s difficult to find informed football analysts who are on Seattle this Sunday.

This, of course, has more to do with how poor Seattle has played to open their season, but they’ve still been incredibly competitive in both losses, losing both games by just one possession.

Going to Seattle and getting a win is a task teams have dreaded for years, even before Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought the Seahawks back to relevancy.Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Now when you add in factors such as this being Seattle’s home opener, and that they will be desperately fighting to avoid a potential season-killing 0-3 start, this is shaping up to be a very tough test for the Cowboys.

The young Cowboys need to handle their business the next two weeks and take advantage of 0-2 conference foes. These games will be huge down the stretch for potential playoff tie breakers and give them a chance to “fatten up” before entering the more challenging parts of their schedule.

Like two match ups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and running the rest of the NFC South gauntlet during the later months of the year.



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