The Dallas Cowboys had a disappointing 8-8 season and missed the playoffs in 2019 after a division title the year before. One of the bright spots, however, was the progression Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing attack. He finished with 4,902 yards (2nd in the NFL) and 30 touchdowns (4th in the NFL) which were both career highs. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup reaped the benefits of Prescott’s elevated play as well. They both set career highs in yards (each went over 1,100), touchdowns, and average yards per catch.
When the NFL Draft came about, the Cowboys were in need of a slot receiver to replace veteran Randall Cobb who went to the Houston Texans in free agency. In the first round, the Cowboys got an early Christmas present when CeeDee Lamb, deemed by most to be the best wide receiver in the draft, fell to them at 17.
Lamb is coming off an amazing junior season at Oklahoma. He finished with 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns which was good enough to garner him first-team All-Big 12 and Consensus All-American honors. Also, his 21.4 yards per catch finished third in the nation last season. Now with Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb in place, just how good can this trio be in their first year together?
One thing that will really help this group to maximize it’s potential is the flexibility of Cooper and Lamb. Both have the ability to line up on the outside and in the slot. Whether it’s lining them up on the same side or putting them both on the outside and letting Gallup work the slot, this constant moving around will force teams to adjust coverages to deal with so much firepower, which will allow the Cowboys to put each receiver in favorable matchups as much as possible.
Another factor that will assist this unit is the Cowboys rushing attack. Ezekiel Elliott is coming off another excellent season with 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tony Pollard, averaged 5.3 yards on a limited 86 carries as a rookie in 2019. Also, the duo had two games in which they both rushed for over 100 yards, something that hadn’t been done by a Cowboys running back tandem since 1998. The constant threat of Elliott and Pollard will force defenses to load the box and allow Prescott and the passing game to keep them off balance with their three-headed monster at receiver.
New Head Coach Mike McCarthy is looking to add some of the principles of the West Coast offense to go along with Kellen Moore’s philosophy that produced the league’s top-ranked offense in 2019 in his first year of calling plays. The West Coast offense is designed to use horizontal passing plays in combination with running plays to stretch out a defense and set up potential bigger plays vertically downfield. When you have three receivers that you can move all around the chessboard and create favorable matchups, the probability of getting chunk plays to stretch the field goes through the roof.
All in all, I think the Cowboys could see Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb reach 1,000 yards in 2020. That sounds a bit far-fetched, considering it’s only happened five times in NFL history, with the last such occurrence coming in 2008 with the Arizona Cardinals. However, considering the versatility of all three receivers, the threat of Elliott and Pollard, and mixing in some of the West Coast offensive philosophies it’s definitely doable. Also, it only takes 62.5 yards per game to average 1,000 yards, which all three of these guys are more than capable of doing.
There’s no limit to how effective Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb can be as a trio and all eyes will be on them in 2020.