Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Follow The Leader: Who Will Be Cowboys Next-Best Receiving Option?

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract Cowboys: Terrance Williams 1

The 2015 season exposed the Dallas Cowboys in ways we didn't know were possible.

Injuries to starting quarterback and leader Tony Romo and star wide receiver Dez Bryant left the Cowboys offense in absolute shambles, with backups and "second-tier" players trying to pick up the pieces.

All of a sudden we were forced to look at the Cowboys offensive unit much differently than we ever have during the Tony Romo era. With Romo healthy, the passing game has never been in question, and most of Dallas' receivers looked like quality players. Terrance Williams looked to be ready to take the next step and solidify himself as the best compliment to Bryant, Cole Beasley seemed to be on track to be the next top slot-guy, and everyone else fit their roles perfectly.

2015 changed our perceptions of all of this.

But hopefully Romo and Dez will both be back for all of 2016, and the rest of the receiving corps can re-fill their 2014 roles perfectly.

We all know that Dez Bryant is the first option in this team's passing game, and is so for good reason. But the question we all have to ask ourselves is, who's next?

Who will be the 2nd-leading receiver for the Cowboys, and help to alleviate some of the pressure off of Dez's shoulders?

The Candidates

Terrance Williams

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Vs Saints: A Look Back In History

(G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

It was all good just a week ago for Williams. After phenomenal performances against Detroit and Green Bay during the 2014-15 playoffs, expectations for Williams skyrocketed going into last season.

Then, when Bryant went down, we all looked to Williams to fill in the number one role and shine in ways we haven't seem him do before. Unfortunately, Williams didn't seem up to the task and he had a rough 2015 campaign.

But he should be back to his normal number-two role for the entirety of this season, a role where he will be more comfortable and more ready to perform under.

That is only if he can keep the number two job after training camp, however.

Brice Butler

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Mini-Camp: Dez Bryant's Recovery Benefits Young WRs

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler (19) celebrates a Cowboys touchdown against the New York Giants, Sunday, October 25, 2015, Secaucus, NJ. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 27-20. (Al Tielemans via AP Images)

Brice Butler seems to be everyone's "sleeper" pick to have a breakout year in 2016. After being traded from Oakland to Dallas during last season, Butler showed off his size, athleticism, and pass catching abilities when given the chance to do so.

With a full year in the system under his belt, Butler should be ready to compete for the number two wide receiver job when training camp opens up later this month.

Even if he is unable to de-throne Williams, Butler will have much more opportunities during the season than he did last year to assert himself as a force in the offense.

Cole Beasley Cowboys Headlines - Is Cole Beasley Looking At A Lesser Role In 2016?

While Butler and Williams fit the stereotypical "next-best option" with their size and traditional position, Cole Beasley could very well make himself the number two option from the slot.

With more attention being given to Bryant on the outside, Beasley should be able to exploit one-on-one mismatches over the middle, create separation, and come up with some big receptions.

Beasley was a serious threat in the passing game during 2014, and with this offense fully healthy and prepared once again, he should be able to return to that form this season. Out of the wide receivers, Beasley was third in receiving yards in 2014 and second last season.

He may be ready to take that next step and assert himself as an every-down pass threat this season.

Who do you got?

Who will be the second leading wide receiver this season? Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, or another candidate who wasn't mentioned above? Let us know in the comment section and let's start the debate!



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

Advertisement
Comments

Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

Published

on

New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



Continue Reading

Player News

BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

Published

on

BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



Continue Reading

Player News

REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

Published

on

L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending