Cowboys Need Butler’s Deep Threat Ability

The Dallas Cowboys have a really good offense. They can do a lot of things and have a lot of players that can help you win games. In the early part of the 2017 NFL season they found the one thing missing for a dominant offense: the deep threat. Enter Brice Butler.

Staff Writer Brian Martin touched on this earlier in the week with 5 Bye Week Decisions the Cowboys Hopefully Made.

Brice Butler’s time with the Cowboys has been marked with inconsistency and drops in crucial times of crucial games. Butler’s flipped the script in the 2017 season, and has started to put it together as the team’s field stretcher.

In a limited role that has him playing only 32% of snaps–roughly 22 snaps a game–Butler has turned his 11 targets into eight catches for 207 yards (averaging 24.7 YPR) and two touchdowns.

If you were to project those numbers over a full season at a full complement of snaps, it would look a lot like a typical DeSean Jackson season.

If you project Butler’s snaps to that of Dez Bryant through the first five games, it projects at 27 targets for 22 receptions, 500 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Over a full season, Butler would be on pace for 70 receptions, 1,600 yards, and 16 touchdowns.

That’s DeSean Jackson.

That’s how explosive and productive Butler’s been in the early stages of the 2017 season.

In fact, no player with 12 receptions or more has a better yards per reception number than Brice Butler’s 25.9. Carolina Panthers Tight End Ed Dickson leads all qualified receivers with 20.5 yards per reception.

Here’s another one for you. No player with two or more catches has a better YPR rate than Butler in 2017.

He’s been absolutely great when given the opportunity.

If there’s an area where Dallas can improve, getting Butler and his down-field ability in the game more often is it.

Really, it would help everyone on the team. Dez would be able to run more routes that compliment his physical yards-after-catch style. That, as opposed to the fly or go routes that put him in more 50/50 situations. Someone who can stretch the field vertically–like Brice Butler–would open routes up underneath for Jason Witten and Cole Beasley.

Are you concerned about the 8 and 9-man fronts Ezekiel Elliott often faces? Then get Brice “The Afterburner” Butler on the field more to prevent safeties cheating into the box.

Now, in order for me to get my way, which is going to happen since this is my post, Jason Garrett and the offensive coaches have to make some changes.

Witten, Beasley, and Bryant aren’t coming off the field.

Witten’s played nearly 100% of the snaps this season. Beasley is one of the better slot receivers in the league, and Dez is Dez; he does Dez things.

Sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss lately.

Linehan: "Butler Has Had a Good Camp", But Will He Stay?
Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Where Can Dallas Find More Snaps for Brice Butler?

First, Terrance Williams will have to take one for the team.

Williams is a solid, rather unspectacular player, and what he does in the run game is valuable. However, he doesn’t stretch the field like Butler does. Williams doesn’t have the impact with his 65% of snaps that Brice has had with his 32%.

When the Cowboys want to go 11-personnel, they should get Butler on the field more.

Secondly, run more 10-personnel.

Put Butler and Williams on the outside and Beasley and Dez in the slot. With Elliott in the backfield there are opportunities galore for Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan and Quarterback Dak Prescott to exploit mismatches.

Third, when going with an empty backfield, use Butler as the fifth receiver.

That’s counting Witten as a receiver since he doesn’t come off the field, and it would be more effective than motioning out the running back. I get why they spread it out and then empty the backfield. It’s all based on what the defense shows them. But if you’re going to go empty, which it seems they do more often than not when lined up in a four wide receiver look, then just go empty and get Butler’s speed on the field.

Dak Prescott is showing his willingness to push the ball down the field in his second season. He needs someone who can get behind a defense and, so far, that person has been Brice Butler.

Butler may not be a perfect player, he will make mistakes, but what Cowboy hasn’t. What Butler does that nobody else on the team can do is use his speed to stress opposing defenses. To me the boom of Butler is worth getting him on the field more.

Coming out of the bye week, let’s hope the Dallas Cowboys agree.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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