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
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
What to Expect from Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Group in 2019
In a span of a week, the Dallas Cowboys have solidified their wide receiver group with the resigning of Tavon Austin to a one year deal and the signing of former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb. Despite the loss of Cole Beasley, the Cowboys have a created a really good group of receivers for Quarterback Dak Prescott to throw to.
Cobb joins a really nice group of players that includes incumbent starters on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as well as solid depth players in Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown. Throw in Cedric Wilson, the Dallas Cowboys sixth round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft and the Cowboys may have one of the deeper receiving corps in the NFL.
The question is, how will the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff delineate the roles?
Let's take a look.
As I mentioned before, the Dallas Cowboys are returning their top two options on the outside in Amari Cooper, who is the X wide receiver and Michael Gallup, the Z receiver. Both players will go into week one as the starters at their respective positions in two-wide receiver formations.
Despite some of the overthrows from Dak Prescott to Michael Gallup, Gallup had a really nice rookie season and got better as the year went along, even leading the Cowboys in receiving in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams. In that game, Gallup recorded the first 100 yard game of his career. Sure, it was in an attempt to comeback by the Dallas Cowboys, but it is impressive nonetheless. His touchdown catch against the Seattle Seahawks the week before was clutch. The Cowboys needed that to take the lead at the end of the first half. 2018 was only the beginning for Michael Gallup. He showed an ability to win with a full offseason to work with Dak Prescott, their chemistry and connection should only improve.
As for Cooper, his presence was felt right away as the offense just looked different once he stepped on the field. It's no coincidence that Dak Prescott's two best career games in terms of passing yardage came with Cooper in 2018. He's such a threat that he opens up space for the rest of the wide receiver group. His route running, speed, ability to run after the catch make him a threat to score any time he's targeted.
Behind Cooper and Gallup, you have options in the event that one of them gets hurt. Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Noah Brown are all players who took snaps on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 and did so with effectiveness. Hurns best game of the year came just before the Cooper deal was made as he went for five receptions for 75 yards.
Tavon provided down field speed on several occasions and provides some gadget quality that the Dallas Cowboys love to have. Noah Brown is a player that the Dallas Cowboys love to deploy as a blocker in the running game. While it looked like he might get more run in the passing game in 2019, the depth additions will limit him again to a specialty role. If needed, though, he could be an option to take snaps on the outside as his big frame allows him to box out defensive backs down the field.
There will be snaps on the outside for someone when the Cowboys go to 11 personnel, because of Amari Cooper's ability to slide into the slot.
Obviously, the writing is on the wall with who the Dallas Cowboys are planning on deploying in the slot as things stand right now, and that's Randall Cobb.
While Cobb should be penciled in as the starter in the slot, I doubt that he's going to get 100% of the snaps there in 11 or 10 personnel groupings. Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson could all push for playing time from the slot.
Last month, I wrote a piece about Allen Hurns and his effectiveness in the slot and why the Cowboys should feature him there. With Cobb coming off an injury laden season, the Cowboys would be wise to give some snaps to Hurns along with Tavon Austin.
In Jacksonville, Hurns was incredibly effective from the slot running posts, slants, and ins and outs. His size and route running made him an effective mismatch against linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks alike. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Hurns had a 1,000 yard season with Blake Bortles at the helm.
Tavon Austin's quickness is an asset that could be very effective in the slot as well. Though he lacks size, he's a player that opposing defenses have to account for because of his ability to make big plays once the ball's in his hands.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The Cowboys haven't been shy about carrying seven wide receivers on their 53-man rosters and it's possible, though unlikely that they could do it again in 2018. As things stand now, I see Noah Brown and Cedric Wilson as the potential odd men out. Of course, this could all get reshuffled if the Dallas Cowboys use a top 100 pick on a wide receiver in the draft.
With Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Randall Cobb only under contract through the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to invest at the position despite the strength of the position in 2019.
Report: Dallas Cowboys Set to Meet with Safety George Iloka
As the Dallas Cowboys continue the process of building a roster capable of taking them back to the playoffs, and hopefully to a Super Bowl, this next season, they’re bringing in another safety to try and strengthen their top 10 defense. This time it’s free agent safety George Iloka, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys are set to meet with
The #Cowboys are hosting former #Vikings and #Bengals safety George Iloka for a visit tomorrow, source said. They're still looking to add in the secondary.
It will be the third meeting this week that they’ve had with a veteran safety after hosting recently resigned Indianapolis’s colts Safety Clayton Geathers and former Kansas City Chiefs Safety Eric Berry.
The Cowboys feel really good about Xavier Woods at safety, but definitely could use some depth at the position as they head toward the 2019 NFL Draft.
Iloka is coming off a season where he was relegated to a reserve role for the Vikings. In five of the last six seasons, Iloka’s played all 16 games, and the one season he didn’t, he played 12. He has nine career interceptions, and has three seasons with more than 70 total tackles.
Back in August of last year, Brian Martin argued that the Dallas Cowboys should pursue Iloka after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals. He would play the strong or box safety role in the Cowboys defense if they were to come to an agreement.
Stay tuned for more Free Agency coverage from us here at InsideTheStar.com.
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