Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup each went over 1,100 yards in 2019, making them one of the NFL’s best receiving duos. The Dallas Cowboys added to that firepower in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft when they selected CeeDee 17th overall, and the expectations for a dynamic trio began.
The elder statesman of the group believed the Cowboys would achieve something that hadn’t been done since the 2008 Arizona Cardinals, produce three 1,000-yard receivers in one season.
“I think with me and Michael Gallup going for 1,000 yards last year, the expectation is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year,” Cooper said per Todd Archer of ESPN back in August.
When Lamb sat down with Cowboys legend and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin two weeks later, he agreed with Cooper’s assessment.
“I think that’s very realistic,” Lamb told Irvin during an interview on NFL Network. “That’s definitely what we’re pushing for.”
“We talk about it a lot on the field, just kind of understanding the personnel that we have, the different type of characteristics in each other’s games. Just being like, wow, it’s crazy that I actually ended up here.”
Through the first four weeks of the 2020 season, the Cowboy’s three-headed monster at receiver was going to make this rare feat a reality. Cooper was on pace for over 1,600 yards, Gallup was set to hit 1,100 yards, and Lamb was looking at a 1,200-yard rookie campaign. Unfortunately, Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 against the New York Giants.
All three receivers saw their production take a dip with Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and rookie Ben DiNucci under center. Cooper somehow managed to have his second consecutive season over 1,100 yards and also set a career-high with 92 receptions, which speaks to his outstanding ability. His unit mates didn’t fare so well.
Gallup finished with 59 receptions for 843 yards and five touchdowns. Those are still pretty good numbers considering the carousel at quarterback. However, his receptions decreased by seven, his yards by 264, and he scored one fewer touchdown than the previous season. Also, his yards per catch went down to 14.3 as opposed to 16.8 which led the Cowboys in 2019.
Lamb and an excellent rookie year with 74 receptions for 935 yards and five touchdowns. His yards per game, however, dropped to 52.2 and his yards per catch dipped to 11.8 over the final 12 games. In the first month of the season, he averaged 77.25 yards per game and 14.7 yards per catch.
So, will they all reach 1,000 yards in 2021?
I say yes, for one simple reason, the return of Prescott. His chemistry with Cooper has been apparent for a while. After completing 69.7% and 66.4% of his passes to Cooper in the previous two seasons, it went up to 72.5% in the four full games they played together in 2020. Also, Cooper was on pace for an unreal 148 receptions.
Prescott made the most of his short time with Lamb as he connected on 72.4% of his passes to the rookie before his injury. His completion percentage to Gallup went down a little to 54.1 as opposed to 58.4 in 2019, but with Gallup in a contract year, and Prescott likely on a second franchise tag, both will be motivated to improve their chemistry.
Only five teams in NFL history have had three 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. It’s a tall task, but with a healthy Prescott back under center, coupled with a healthy offensive line to protect him, expect enormous production from Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb in 2021.