The Blake Jarwin hype train didn’t make it very far down the 2021 tracks before getting derailed by an ACL injury in week one against the Los Angeles Rams. It was a disappointing start and end to the season for Jarwin and for many who thought the athletic pass catcher was in for a big season. That was just one of many disappointments to come out of the 2020 season. However, as quickly as the Blake Jarwin hype train came of the tracks, another locomotive pulled on and emerged as a legitimate starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys; Dalton Schultz.
Dalton Schultz came into the 2020 season with just 13 receptions to his ledger, 12 of those coming in the 2018 season after Jason Witten’s abrupt retirement.
In 2020, Schultz finished third on the team with 63 receptions on 89 targets for 613 yards and four touchdowns. One could make the argument that this was the second-best tight end season the Dallas Cowboys have received in the last six years. In his first shot as the starting tight end for the Cowboys, Schultz delivered. He showed good route running, athleticism, and enough ability after the catch, and strong hands as a receiver. He was solid in the running game and showed why he was so highly thought of coming out of Stanford in 2017. His versatile nature was a strong fit for the Cowboys in 2020 and they’ll need him to take another step forward in 2021.
With Schultz’s emergence, where does that leave Blake Jarwin?
Well, the Cowboys will likely enter training camp in 2021 with a position battle at tight end between Schultz and Jarwin. While Jarwin was the guy that was getting the most hype at the position in 2020, Schultz proved he could be the man at the position. Even if Jarwin isn’t able to start, the Cowboys became more versatile with the emergence of Schultz.
Heading into the 2020 season, it was inevitable that the Cowboys would predominantly be an 11-personnel team with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and the first-round selection of CeeDee Lamb. As they should have been. You don’t want to keep any of those three players on the sidelines for very long. And at the same time, it is a good thing to be able to play from different personnel groupings depending on the situation.
Often in the red zone, the Cowboys were in 11-personnel and attempted to run, when they might have been better-sutied playing from 12-personnel (one running backs, two tight ends). In addition to that, the Cowboys have another piece they can use to create mismatches in the passing game.
The Cowboys have two tight ends that they can deploy as in-line tight ends or in the slot in the passing game. Jarwin or Schultz can be motioned away from the formation or across it. Both players can be used on that naked bootleg they like to run, and both players can be sent up the seam in Kellen Moore’s vertical passing attack. In the red zone, when the Cowboys do line up in heavy personnel groupings, they have two guys that are solid blockers and threats to go into a route in the passing game.
While they won’t become a majority 12-personnel team in 2021 with their outstanding trio of wide receivers, the emergence of Dalton Schultz in addition to the talent of Blake Jarwin will create more options for the Cowboys to threaten opposing defenses. While a player like Kyle Pitts from the University of Florida would be very intriguing, Schultz and Jarwin have the tight end position in a good position for the Dallas Cowboys heading into 2021.