After spending the 2017 season plagued by a disappointing passing attack, the Dallas Cowboys might be in the market for wide receivers during free agency. Of course, there are a ton of different options for them to choose from, but narrowing it down to a couple realistic choices is necessary.
The Cowboys hired Sanjay Lal to coach their wide outs just a few weeks ago, and it would make sense for them to bring in personnel who Lal is familiar with. Lal was most recently the receivers coach for the Indianapolis Colts, but spent time in Buffalo with the Bills as well.
Ironically, there are two free agent receivers who were both coached by Lal during prior seasons.
Colts Receiver Donte Moncrief enters the open market after a somewhat disappointing 2017 season. His production drop-off can mostly be attributed to injuries and shaky offensive talent around him, but Moncrief still could have been better.
Moncrief's best season came back in 2015 when he caught 64 balls for 733 yards and 6 touchdowns. This was also the last time he played a full 16 games.
What makes Moncrief so intriguing?
For one, he's just 24 years old. He's also 6'2" and 216 pounds, which would fit the bill for a Cowboys' Z receiver. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine, has functional speed on the field as well, and has become known for creating big plays down the field while averaging 15 yards per reception in 2017.
The Cowboys lacked any type of big plays through the passing game in 2017, and Moncrief could be a deep target for Dak Prescott moving forward.
Sammy Watkins is a bit of a controversial player throughout the league. The former first-round pick was drafted in the same class as elite receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans. But Watkins himself has never fully reached his potential. This has a lot to do with his injury history.
Watkins has played in all 16 games just once in his career, and has been hobbled throughout multiple seasons. What would give me hope in signing Sammy Watkins to the Cowboys?
Well, his best season by far came in 2015 where he caught 60 balls for 1,047 yards and 9 touchdowns. 2015 was also the last full season he was coached by Sanjay Lal, the current receivers coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Watkins credits Lal with molding him into the receiver he's become, stating Lal was the guy who "groomed me into running routes and doing everything the right way." Considering how strong the relationship between Watkins and Lal seems to be, he may want to come to Dallas for the upcoming season.
The real question becomes, then, is Watkins the type of receiver the Cowboys need? They need to find someone who can create easy separation and has reliable hands. In some ways, Watkins may bring more questions to the passing game than answers.
Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts
For the first time since 2003, the Dallas Cowboys were shutout on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Their five game winning streak snapped, the Cowboys also saw their chances at clinching the NFC East dashed before the late kickoffs. Needing both a Redskins and Eagles loss to win the division without the benefit of a win themselves, the Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive with a walk off field goal at the Jaguars.
Washington Quarterback Josh Johnson won his second start since 2013 with 151 yards and one touchdown. The Redskins aren't the only NFC East team playing with a backup QB, as the Eagles must once again rally around Nick Foles against the Rams to extend their shot at the playoffs on Sunday Night Football.
The Cowboys certainly didn't deserve a celebration of any kind after their performance at the Colts. An emotional letdown after a win streak that featured triumphs over the Eagles twice, Redskins, and Saints, the Cowboys were slowed to a complete stop on offense while struggling fundamentally on defense.
Uncharacteristic missed tackles and lack of pressure on Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck allowed Indianapolis to turn a 10-0 halftime lead into an easy 23-0 win. Defending their home field, the Colts came out like a team still fighting for their playoff lives, while Dallas played like a team knowing two more chances at winning the division are still to come.
Instead of being able to watch and root against the Eagles tonight, the Cowboys can focus on not letting an embarrassing loss define a season that'll still end on a high note should they defeat the Buccaneers or Giants. A week 16 or 17 win automatically seals the division for the Cowboys, even with the Redskins improving to 7-7 moments before the Colts secured their shutout.
It was a masterful performance from Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus, preparing his team against Scott Linehan's offense to disrupt the momentum of one of the league's hottest teams.
Praising the Redskins for defeating a Jaguars team the Cowboys handled 40-7 much earlier in the season is hardly the situation Cowboys Nation wants to be in right now, but the team still has everything in front of them once Sunday's sixth loss is put behind them.
IND 23, DAL 0: Cowboys Get Shut Out, Embarrassed by Colts
The Dallas Cowboys must think they've already won the NFC East, because they looked like a team with nothing to play for today. The result was an embarrassing 23-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Cowboys were shut out for the first time since the 2003 season, which was Jason Witten's rookie year.
Dallas squandered a major time-of-possession advantage in the first half, finishing three drives with a blocked field goal, punt, and a failed 4th-and-1 play near the Colts' goal line. Indianapolis capitalized on their own drives and took a 10-0 lead into halftime.
The Colts got the ball back to start the third quarter and drove down for another touchdown. Down 17-0, Dallas responded with a weak drive and a punt. The game felt out of reach even then, with the Cowboys just looking flat from that point forward.
Ezekiel Elliott had 87 rushing yards 41 receiving for some empty production. Amari Cooper won't be winning any awards this week, held to just four catches for 32 yards.
Dak Prescott completed 62% of his passes for 206 yards. He was sacked three times and threw a late interception; an overthrown ball got tipped by the receiver and picked off on the team's final offensive series.
While the offense was especially bad today, the defense wasn't much better. Dallas surrendered 139 yards rushing yards and two touchdown to Colts RB Marlon Mack, who hadn't had a 100-yard game since October. Andrew Luck wasn't sacked and went virtually untouched the entire day.
The Cowboys could have taken the NFC East with a win, but they didn't come close. Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call with the postseason only a few weeks away.
- With the Redskins defeating the Jaguars today, Dallas will have to wait until next week to try to clinch the NFC East. The Cowboys needed losses by both Washington and Philadelphia if they didn't win themselves. The Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.
- The Cowboys will get some softer competition to finish the year, hosting the Buccaneers next week and then going to play the Giants in Week 17.
- With the Bears defeating the Packers today and moving to 10-4, they will likely stay the #3 seed in the playoffs. That means Dallas, assuming they do win the NFC East, will almost certainly be hosting the 5th-seeded Seahawks in the first round.
- Jaylon Smith led the Cowboys with 11 tackles, but neither he or Leighton Vander Esch were making the big plays that we've grown accustomed to.
- Xavier Woods had the highlight play on defense, delivering a perfect hit to dislodge the ball from Colts TE Eric Ebron and stop a potential big gain.
- Blake Jarin and Dalton Schultz combined for seven catches for 68 yards; another week of increased TE production from what we've seen must of the year.
- Fullback Jamize Olawale doesn't get many opportunities on offense, and he may not get more after dropping an open touchdown on the team's second drive of the day.
Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Trailing Colts 10-0 at Halftime
The Cowboys have had no trouble moving the ball today, but they've failed to finish drives with points. Dallas is thus trailing the Indianapolis Colts 10-0 at halftime.
Dallas has had possession for over 19 minutes compared to just 10 for the Colts. But their three drives have ended with a blocked field goal, a failed 4th-and-1 play near the endzone, and a punt.
The offensive line continues to suffer from health issues. With Zack Martin already out and Connor Williams starting at right guard, Xavier Su'a-Filo left the game with an eye injury during the second quarter and will not return. Backup Adam Redmond is now playing.
The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win in any of their final three games. They could also clinch today if the Redskins and Eagles lose. Washington is trailing 10-3 in Jacksonville at halftime, and the Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.
Hopefully, Dallas will start showing up on the scoreboard in the second half.
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