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Can TE Rico Gathers be More Than a Just Receiving Threat?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

Rico Gathers is trying to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham as someone who has successfully made the transition from college basketball player to tight end in the NFL. Unfortunately, that transition hasn't gone quite as smoothly as he probably would've hoped.

To date, Gathers really hasn't been able to put a lot on tape. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad with the Dallas Cowboys, but did gain some valuable experience working with Tony Romo. Last year he was just beginning to show what kind of threat he could be in the passing game when he unfortunately sustained a concussion in practice, pretty much ending his season.

As you can imagine, Rico Gathers still has a lot to prove heading into the 2018 season. In no way is his roster spot guaranteed right now. He may still be the most talented and physically gifted TE on the Cowboys roster, but that will only get him so far.

I for one think Gathers can be a tremendous threat in the passing game. I think the flashes we saw in preseason a year ago are exactly the kind of weapon he can turn into for Dak Prescott. He is even working a route running guru, David Robinson, to become even better in the passing game. But, we all know the Cowboys coaching staff demands a lot more from their tight ends.

Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

In the Cowboys offensive scheme, the tight end is an important position. They have to be able to block in several different areas depending on the formation, especially at the point of attack as an in-line blocker, sometimes being left one on one against a defensive end. That means they have to be assignment sound pre and post snap, with the ability to make the right adjustments in a split second.

For Rico Gathers, this is the area of his game holding him back the most right now. We all know what kind of threat he can be in the passing game, but the Cowboys coaching staff wants someone they can trust to leave on the field down after down. This is where Gathers will have to prove himself the remainder of the offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys knew Rico Gathers was a developmental prospect when they drafted him in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They didn't know how long it would take for him to be be able to contribute, but that time may be running out. Year 3 could be his last chance to prove himself in Dallas.

Gathers is a mismatch player in the passing game against smaller defensive backs, but that might not be enough for the Cowboys coaching staff to keep him around. I would personally get him involved in the receiving game, especially with all the new faces Prescott will be throwing to this season, but unfortunately I'm not making those decisions.

Do you think Rico Gathers is more than just a passing game threat?



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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28 Comments
  • Chet Horton

    No he won’t and he isn’t even a threat in the passing game. He is an awful football player. He is a horrible route runner and can’t block even a little bit. He doesn’t know the offense. He isn’t any faster and definitely not as quick as any of the real TE’s on the roster. The only thing he has on even the worst TE in the NFL is height and he can rebound. As a pro football player he is a waste of time, space, and money. The sooner we cut him and move on the better.

    • SmittyW

      Chet is pretty much on the money.
      With coaches still criticizing Gaither’s efforts and skill set, it’s pretty obvious a failed experiment.
      He either makes the team (which I doubt) or is cut by the end of this training camp.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

        Chet is wrong about Rico…

    • Sidney Montgomery

      I wouldn’t say he’s the worst TE from what I’ve seen. I liked his receiving ability, I don’t know if by design but the Cowboys don’t show much tape on his technique. I don’t think they are happy with him but are afraid he might turn out to be pretty special on another team. I guess training camp will tell. Just don’t take too much time from other developing TEs.

      • kabob

        I honestly don’t think how a player would do for another team factors into the Cowboys’ roster decisions at all. In the past, they’ve parted ways with multiple players with potential that didn’t work out for them but could have or later did better on other teams. Heck, they’ve made a living banking on those same players on other teams working out here in Dallas with different coaching and scheme fit. If Gathers can succeed for another team, that’s a benefit to both him and the Cowboys. The other NFC East teams are stacked at TE so it’s not like a division rival would pick him up and start him.

        • Sidney Montgomery

          It’s not so much of what he will do for another team but they took a raw talent and in my opinion he is ok as a receiver but his blocking technique is lacking. If they still had a Jason Witten on the roster they could continue to develop that but they have too many young other young TE to work with. Perhaps if he goes to another team short at TE they would have time to work with him. I think at some point he will become a decent player. Remember, he is learning the position at the Nfl level.

          • kabob

            A team that picks up a player off another’s practice squad has to put him on the active squad. No team’s going to do that when he can’t even come close to making it with the Cowboys. He’d have to be cut and picked up off waivers.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Wrong in your point about no NFC east team not picking him up
          Philly tried to pluck Jarwin just this past season
          I can see them using Rico like Ertz
          By the way, coaches, writers, & experts have the same bones with Jarwin blocking deficiencies
          &
          Yes Rico is a receiving threat
          He outshined them all last preseason & with all 3 Qb’s
          Experts favors Jarwin ahead of Swaim who has all 9 catches between TE’s

          So this dies cast a good light on Swaim
          &
          They say Schultz has quite a ways to go before he’s NFL ready

          Bottomline

          Dallas coaches say Witten can’t be replaced & they’re not trying
          PLUS
          The NFL is a copy cat league & we just assume Dallas will stuck withbthe status quo

          JG says Rico just needs to play more ball
          Practice won’t be enough

          This means he intended to play him to get him up to par
          Dallas is moving towards change & implementation
          &
          Why will they give opponents a heads up on our plans
          Haven’t we said we’re too predictable?
          So why assume we’re gonna stay the course TE-wise ?
          Or concerning any true gameplan for that matter?

          May the spirit of Bill Belichek supersede our coaching tendency to give family secret recipes away prematurely

          • kabob

            What you think now that training camp has proven Rico can’t run routes properly still, is slow out of his stance and he’s completely out of place with his hand, feet, and direction? Still looks like a beginner.

          • Sexcdex Xfact

            Schultz doing OK but blowing assignments
            Jarwin outdoing em all but has missed assignments
            Rico is progressing & being blasted for his missteps
            Ain’t been hearing much on Swaim
            Rico been showing out receiving wise
            He’s not far tat with Jarwin
            He’s also making very nice blocks
            This is from several days of padded practices
            &
            From analysists reviews

            Your point is secondary to what I plainly can see in video footage pointed out by staff writers & experts

            And by no means am I saying Rico makes the team
            But he made the 4TE roster with Jason Witten last year

            Why can’t he not make a 4TE roster this year?

    • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

      Rico will be a pro bowler anywhere he goes & gets an opportunity on the field… he’s special soft hands plays big… Cowboys hid Rico Gathers last year on the injured list… Gathers could have played more than half the season… The cowboys have very weak player development coaches/program… Release Rico & i guarantee he starts & becomes a pro bowler on the team that signs him…

      • SmittyW

        A pro bowler? Is that you Rico?

        Seriously, what evidence do you have that a guy who cannot make the roster is going to be an NFL active player much less a pro bowler ?

      • Chet

        No way no how will he ever even be a 3rd string TE in the NFL. He isn’t special. He isn’t fast. He isn’t quick. Every TE on the roster is as fast or faster than him and they are all quicker. He looks like he is running in slow motion when running routes. He gets zero separation. He doesn’t catch any better than any of the other Dallas TE’s. He doesn’t have soft hands his hands are average for the NFL. He can’t block. He can’t take a hit. The only thing he has going is that he is tall. He wasn’t even an above average Division I basketball player or he would be in the NBA making a lot more money. He is a horrible football player and will never amount to anything in the NFL.

    • Not your goat

      Did you watch the Cowboys in the preseason last year? Rico played like what Marty Bennett wanted to. Caught balls in traffic, red zone, on the run, all hand catches. I understand you have heard this and that about how bad he blocks but honestly it benefits keeping a practice squad player from getting plucked. After the initial hype over Jarwin last year we heard the same kind of stuff. The Cowboys have always been good at and emphasized teaching so Rico is definitely in the right spot. This team needs difference makers and I see 2018 as the year Jerry gets some credit for a few of these risky but high reward decisions he’s made recently. This team is seriously on the verge of not just being good but dominant and if TE, FS or WR is holding us back come camp the Cowboys will undoubtedly make a move anyways. We still have the cap to sign any contract we want besides a QB and if this team wins this year there’s enough cap next year to re-up EVERYONE!

      • Sexcdex Xfact

        They just won’t believe it until they see it
        And I doubt some see it even then
        Other teams have rewritten the TE position with Rico type players, hybrids, etc

        It’s like we complain about staleness in coaching but play couch-coach in suggesting we should settle for being left behind by teams that do employ fresher schemes that keeps teams guessing

        I honestly feel J Jones, JG, & Co have damaged fanbase ability to rationalize anymore

        Now that the writings on the wall as far as extreme measures to adapt by the FO, the FANBASE is still stuck in the old mold

      • Chet

        I have watched every pre-season and regular season Cowboys game for the last 10 years. Rico caught 7 passes last year against 3rd string pre-season players. He had very little separation from any of the defenders and any non drafted TE the Cowboys have ever had could have caught all of them. He is a horrible player both as a receiver and a blocker. The TE’s they have are so far superior than Rico he would never see the field then they drafted Schultz who is also a far better TE than Rico which further cemented Rico as the worst TE on the roster. In no way shape or form is Rico a difference maker, he is a liability. That sums up Rico so now let’s address why the Cowboys don’t need the type of TE you think Rico is. This is a running team and whether this team is dominate or not has nothing to do with the passing game and everything to do with the running game and the defense. The passing game is like Roger Clemens change up and slider both are good pitches but they are nothing without his fastball. Our running game is the single most important and only difference maker we need on offense to win a super bowl. So a slow, weak, poor blocking, poor route running, football ignorant TE is not a difference maker and is a waste of time, money, and air by those discussing him. He is irrelevant and will never be anything in the NFL but irrelevant.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Witt couldn’t get separated either these past few years like he use to
          But your point solidify Gathers ability tohighpoint a catch
          & Dak being able to advantage his tight window throws genius in using Rico & others
          Rico’s height advantage makes up for any speed deficiencies
          Plus
          Rico has NFL preseason experience to schultzs

        • Not your goat

          Hahaha, I couldn’t even read 3 lines of that stat search contradiction. No separation but somehow still making uncontested catches anyone could make, hahaha, I wasn’t aware anyone could score in the NFL, I really need to look into this. Like I said, go watch the tape, you clearly just googled stats because those weren’t ordinary catches, 1 of them was tipped in front of him while another guy was lining him up and he outperformed every TE on the roster, not against 3rd stringers like you say either. And I’m pretty sure you might be the only person denying Rico’s physical ability, he’s a superior athlete at his position and denying that for the sake of your argument just sounds silly. I’m just curious where this analysis you have of Gathers comes from? Your own private practice sesh with him or just pure esp? My 1st cousin that I grew up w/ has an office in the Star and works for the NFL Network (you know who this person is) tells me Rico is a monster and not only is he running better routes but he’s becoming a physical blocker. Don’t believe everything you read and when a coach not known for dropping any information on any player suddenly drops negative info, it either had a different purpose or he simply wanted to motivate his young player.

      • Chet

        I do agree we are really close to being very special just disagree about how.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

        ✔…

  • Not your goat

    I understand the concern over his pass/run blocking but on a team short of potential passing mismatches or just targets period it would be foolish to not give Rico every chance to contribute on offense. If you honestly look at this Recieving core as a whole the only 2 guys that have the potential physical ability to do things that are undefendable are Rico and Tavon. That’s a scary balance of size and speed and pure speed to gameplan against. Unproven but again on a team short of difference makers I’d give every opportunity to the guy who can impose his will and make plays that other options on the team can’t.

    • Sexcdex Xfact

      Question

      If Rico is on the field with
      (say for example)
      Swaim & Jarwin or Schultz & Swaim in a 2-3 TE set defenses just cant assume run or pass

      Just how hard is this to phantom for God’s sake?!

      I agree with you

      • Not your goat

        Schultz was widely considered the 2nd best run blocking TE (w/ a min. catch amount) in College Football, the best 1 we picked up as a UDFA. If we can use a 4th rd pick in hope of teaching a man to catch we certainly can teach a blue chip athlete how to block or at least do the bare minimum. Don’t forget we have a few All-Pro Linemen that love to pull and clean up linebackers. Those 2-3 TE sets would be so scary to teams. Most people think defenses stacked the box because we had Zeke, no the did it because Witten never left the field and he’s not fast. Imagine running the Wishbone over and over on a hurry up offense and Rico slips past a safety or 8 plays later on 2nd down we sub Austin, Thompson and Cedric Wilson. Doesn’t seem very scary yet but considering those guys all run legit 4.3’s and we just punched it down the throat of your heavy D-sets these guys will be running wild. I can’t wait, this team is so complete I can’t stand waiting anymore.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Philly, LA Rams & others are employing more college schemes with success
          Dak says part of Dak-friendly is spread offense & other techniques he’s accustom to
          So yeah, I can see something of the sort

  • Russ_Te

    If RG is just too much of a liability as a blocker, that will show up and he’ll be cut this preseason. If he has upside there, then get him in the pre-season games a lot and let’s see how much of a target he is. The team needs an inside weapon badly enough this year, to tolerate a learning curve as a blocker.

  • SmittyW

    Rico if you spent more time training instead of using a fake name to comment on articles about you, it’s possible though unlikely you will make the team.

  • Sexcdex Xfact

    Yesssss
    And it will allow for much pressure off the up & coming-together receiving corp

  • kabob

    Oh yeah, Rico looking so great in training camp…. NOT. Dude is about to be cut from the team.

Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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Star Blog

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

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Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The Dak Stats

Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.

Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.

When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.

Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.

Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.

Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.

Questions Still Loom

This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.

But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -167
  2. Dallas Cowboys +350
  3. New York Giants +650
  4. Washington Redskins +750

NFC East Week 1 Predictions

The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.

The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.

The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.

The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.

This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.



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