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?
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 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.
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!