When the Dallas Cowboys made the trade for Amari Cooper a week ago, the focus was on what this meant at the top of the wide receiver depth chart, and rightly so. The team got better in the starting lineup with Amari Cooper as their WR1. Not only does his addition in the starting lineup make the Dallas Cowboys better on offense, by pushing Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup down the depth chart, the Dallas Cowboys got better when they decide to go with four and five wide receivers. The biggest impact is what it does for the wide receiver depth in general. It’s the best group of wide receivers they’ve had in the Jason Garrett era.
When the Cowboys line up to play the Tennessee Titans next Monday night, this is what the wide receiver group will look like:
- Amari Cooper
- Michael Gallup
- Cole Beasley
- Allen Hurns
- Deonte Thompson
- Tavon Austin (likely inactive due to injury).
Obviously Cooper and Beasley are the headliners for the Dallas Cowboys offense, but Michael Gallup has turned it on over the last couple of games. Gallup led the team in receiving in their loss to the Washington Redskins. Allen Hurns has been underwhelming for most of the season, but came on strong with his best game of the season week seven as well.
The trade for Cooper should allow the Dallas Cowboys offensive staff to put Hurns in the slot more moving forward. When Hurns was with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he did a lot of his best work in the slot and working the middle of the field.
2012 was the last time the Dallas Cowboys had a receiver over 1,000 yards receiving and one wide receiver with more than 900 yards receiving when Dez Bryant had his breakout season and Miles Austin finished third on the team in receiving yards. But that wide receiver group was top heavy as Kevin Ogletree was the third most productive receiver on the team that season.
In 2011, they got a big season from Laurent Robinson, but Mile Austin had a little more than 500 yards receiving and played only 10 games. Jesse Holley had the fourth most receiving yards that season and the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have a player eclipse 1,000 yards on the season.
For years, Jason Witten was the first or second best pass catcher on the roster, but the wide receiver group was never as good as it is this season. They’ve been top-heavy with Dez Bryant, but haven’t been as deep as this group has been in 2018.
It’s not likely that we’ll see two receivers approach 1,000 yard seasons, but the quality of player they have up and down the roster is the best Garrett’s ever had.
Amari Cooper and Allen Hurns have both had 1,000 yards seasons. Cole Beasley is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. Michael Gallup is one of the best young wide receivers this team has had since Dez Bryant. Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin provide excellent depth and have come up with big plays of their own this season.
Their depth gives the Cowboys more options with personnel deployment and the coaching staff should be excited to take advantage of it. Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett love to use multiple tight ends as well as 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). They should use more personnel groupings that get their best pass catchers on the field at the same time, meaning more 10 (1 RB, 0 TE, 4 WR). I like Geoff Swaim as a tight end, but I don’t believe that he’s one of the four best pass catchers on the Cowboys roster. Having him or another tight end on the field during obvious passing situations — like they did Dalton Schultz in the two-minute drill on Sunday — is a crime against offense. I like Shultz and think he could be a serviceable tight end in the NFL, but he shouldn’t be on the field in that situation.
As I mentioned when I broke down the two-minute drill against Washington, the Cowboys failure to have packages to get their best four pass catchers on the field in crunch time is inexcusable. Moving forward, the Cowboys have to figure out how to get Cooper, Beasley, Hurns, and Gallup on the field together. Specifically, they should look at putting Cooper and Gallup on the outside with Beasley and Hurns in the slot.
The Dallas Cowboys have the depth at wide receiver to line up this group in some versatile sets. There is no reason that they need to have a tight end on the field in obvious passing situations. As the Cowboys move forward it would be to their benefit