As the NFL has turned into a passing league, it isn't enough anymore to have just one wide receiver or pass-catcher (tight ends and running backs included) that can make plays in the passing game. Teams must have a plethora of weapons to overcome gameplans that take away a top option in the passing game. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys received excellent production from their top two wide receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup and should be considered one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL.
Yesterday, Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report took a stab at ranking the top 5 wide receiver duos in the NFL heading into 2020.
Mr. Gagnon from Bleacher report mentioned a few caveats as he began his discussion of the top five wide receiver duos in the NFL. He eliminated the Dallas Cowboys due to one such caveat.
“We didn't include duos containing rookies because too much is unknown about the effectiveness of first-year players who have yet to see the field. Apologies to the Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.”
I know we're all excited about the prospects of CeeDee Lamb with a star on his helmet, but before we make the assumption that he's the Cowboys number two wide receiver, he probably needs to do something in the NFL. I think he's going to be great, but he's the third wide receiver on the Cowboys depth chart behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup at this point.
Remember, Michael Gallup just had a breakout 1,100-yard season. As the second receiver in an offense, that's incredibly difficult to do.
It's worth a read and had the article considered that the Dallas Cowboys top two receivers are Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, perhaps he would have regarded as the Cowboys one of the top 5 receiving combos in the NFL.
Here are his top 5.
- Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
- Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
- Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
- Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
In 2019, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both averaged more than 15 yards per reception and had more than 1,100 receiving yards on the season. Only the combination of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin can make a similar claim.
While the duos from Seattle and Atlanta were good, Ridley and Metcalf failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving on the season. As mentioned above, both Cooper and Gallup recorded 1,000 yard receiving seasons. The duos from the Bucs, Browns, and Chargers were each able to pass 1,000 yards receiving.
Among wide receivers with at least 90 targets in 2019, the Cowboys and the Buccaneers were the only two teams to have two players in the top 10 in the NFL in yards per route run per Pro Football Focus.
On passes 20 or more yards down the field, the Dallas Cowboys were one of just four teams to have two receivers in the top 20 in reception percentage on deep passes among players with at least 90 targets per Pro Football Focus. Amari Cooper led the NFL on deep ball reception percentage, and Michael Gallup was 16th in the league. Only the Detroit Lions had two players in the top 16 in the NFL, but they were just in front of Gallup. Both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones tied for 12th in the NFL.
Now, one area where the Dallas Cowboys combo of Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper struggled last season was in drop rate. Again, among receivers that saw 90 targets, Michael Gallup led the NFL in drop rate, and Amari Cooper was 12th. Pretty bad, right? Well, D.K. Metcalf was second in the NFL in drop rate, Mike Evans was fifth, and Odell Beckham Jr. was 10th per Pro Football Focus.
Of course, this is all subjective, but at this point in their careers, I'd pretty easily take Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup over Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Above the other four, I'm not so sure. I love Keenan Allen. I think he's one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL. Then you look at the top three on the list, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., and Julio Jones, each has an argument to be considered the best or one of the three to five best wide receivers in the NFL AND they have a really good running buddy.
Other teams could make a case for having a top 5 wide receiver duo like the New Orleans Saints with Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders or the Arizona Cardinals with DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. While both good, Sanders and Fitzgerald aren't necessarily in their prime anymore and aren't as good as any of the second receivers mentioned above.
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best young offenses in the NFL heading into 2020, and with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, they've got one of the five best wide receiver duos in the NFL. While CeeDee Lamb will get a lot of opportunities in the Cowboys offense, it shouldn't take away too much from the guys at the top of the depth chart.
With the departures of Randall Cobb and Jason Witten, there are 166 targets available in the passing game per Pro Football Reference. While Blake Jarwin will see an uptick from his 41 targets, I don't imagine he takes all of Jason Witten's 83 targets left behind when he hit the road for the Las Vegas Raiders.
So, while Lamb will get a lot of work, it won't eat into Cooper and Gallup's production.
The thing that might eat into the passing game production in 2020 is if the Cowboys can play with more leads in games. Many times the Cowboys got behind early and were forced to throw their way back into games. If they can get off to quicker starts this season and if the defense can prevent teams from getting out to double-digit leads early, we could see a dip in the overall production of the passing game. However, that could be a good thing for the win column.
With Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, the Dallas Cowboys boast one of the top 5 receiving duos in the NFL. They're just that good. Entering their third year with Dak Prescott at quarterback and second year in Kellen Moore's offense should only help to see their games go to another level in 2020. With the addition of the dynamic CeeDee Lamb and the promotion of the athletic and explosive Blake Jarwin into the starting lineup, there will be more room to operate for Cooper and Gallup to make big plays in the passing game.
Dallas' dynamic duo will continue to prove potent in the Cowboy passing game.