I hate to keep bringing up the 2015 season, but it is the last reference point that we have to judge the production of the Dallas Cowboys and their players.
In all honesty, I would like to wipe it from memory in hopes of forgetting all about the disastrous season last year, but since that's not possible we just have to take comfort in the fact that a new season kicks off in the not so distant future.
There has been one area of the Cowboys offense that has continued to haunt me ever since Dez Bryant went down with an injury early in the 2015 season against the division rival New York Giants.
I knew then that the Cowboys wide receivers would struggle without Bryant in the lineup. There really isn't another receiver on the roster that could step up and become that #1 WR, but there was one player that I thought might be able to take on a larger role.
After nearly walking away from the game as a rookie, Beasley has really established himself as a player to look for in clutch situations.
I really thought that after Bryant went down with injury early in 2015, Beasley would be the player that quarterback Tony Romo would look to more often.
Of course, Romo himself ended up getting injured and forced the Cowboys into playing a number of backup QB's the rest of the season. That could possibly have had something to do with the production of the receivers.
Still, Beasley managed to have the best season of his career in 2015 and if you take a look at his statistics since his rookie year, you will notice he has improved each year.
Despite the fact that Beasley continues to be more involved in the offense each year, there is reason to believe he could be looking at a lesser role in 2016.
Let me try to explain why this may happen…
Reason #1-The return of Dez Bryant
I know what you're probably thinking. Why would the return of Bryant have any effect on Beasley's role?
Well, it's not just the return of Bryant, but also the emergence of Brice Butler.
I have a feeling that Butler will have a much larger role in the offense in 2016, which might actually help Bryant because they could play him more out of the slot to keep him away from the opposing defenses best cornerback.
If this is the case, then Terrance Williams and Brice Butler will more than likely be the two outside receivers with Bryant playing out of the slot, where Beasley has found a home for himself.
We all know that Bryant will be the number one target once he is back on the field, and I truly believe that Butler could possibly this year's breakout player. That leaves Beasley looking for targets wherever he can find them.
Reason #2- A dominant running game
They didn't invest the #4 overall draft pick on running back Ezekiel Elliott to put more emphasis on the passing game. They drafted him to become The Butcher and get all the meat off the bone.
If you've forgotten, Joseph Randle said last year that DeMarco Murray left a lot of the meat on the bone after the 2014 season, but Randle never even came close. Elliott however, will get every scrap of meat off the bone with the precision of a butcher, hence the nickname.
The Butcher, Ezekiel Elliott, will more than likely be the engine that powers the offense, so I'm thinking that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will probably want wide receivers on the field that can help block for Elliott down the field. That might lead Beasley watching from the sidelines a little more.
Due to Beasley size (5'8", 180), he is never going to be considered a physically imposing player and he might be one of the last wide receivers on the Cowboys roster that you would want blocking for your bell cow running back. I'm not saying he can't do it, but I do think that there are better options on the roster.
All in all, there is really no way of telling for sure if Cole Beasley's role in the offense will increase or decrease in 2016, but there are reasons to believe we could be seeing less of the diminutive wide receiver.
Where do you stand on Cole Beasley's role in 2016?
Feel free to use the comment section below or hit me up on Twitter @bmart0204 so we can discuss this topic further.
Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018
A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.
There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.
Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire
Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.
Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.
How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.
With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.
Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension
Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately, for his public intoxication arrest last May.
Dallas placed Terrance on IR in Week 5 just a day before their game against the Houston Texans. Williams had been struggling with a foot issue since the offseason, which included a surgery that he hadn't fully recovered from.
Many were surprised that Williams wasn't suspended to start the season, given that his arrest occurred several months prior. But when charges were eventually dropped after Terrance took part in some required alcohol education courses, it appeared the league might be letting the issue go.
However, as Cowboys fans know all too well, Roger Goodell's NFL operates its own judicial system.
In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.
Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.
The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.
Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.
Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.
But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.
Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.
Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.
For now, though, Terrance Williams is out of action and out some money. We'll see what the future holds.
Report: Austin Heading to IR: Deonte Thompson is the Next Man Up
Tavon Austin's stint with the Dallas Cowboys has been up and down through six games. He's provided some big play ability on the outside, but hasn't really had the running room on jet sweeps that the Dallas Cowboys would have hoped for when they acquired Austin from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Now it's being reported by Brandon George from the Dallas Morning News that Austin may be headed to injured reserve for a groin tear suffered in the Dallas Cowboys week six win over the Jaguars.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said WR Tavon Austin will be getting a second opinion on his injured right groin in the next day or so. He didn't discount possibility of him being placed on injured reserve.
Whether Austin goes to injured reserve or not remains to be seen, but we do know that he'll miss week seven and likely won't be able to suit up for a while. Though Austin hasn't been relied upon much, he has been a threat that opposing defenses have had to account for in both the passing and running game. Tavon Austin leaves a bit of a hole.
Enter Deonte Thompson.
Deonte Thompson, who was signed by the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason, hasn't been the same type of rushing threat that Austin has been in his NFL career. Thompson's only carried the ball two times in his career for -5 yards. However, Thompson has some skills that could bode well should the Dallas Cowboys decide to use him in the jet sweep role that Austin is vacating.
He's been a return threat in his NFL career, averaging 24.8 yards per return. He's had returns of 47, 64, and 74 yards. He's also had some good moments running after the catch in his career, though he hasn't gotten many opportunities.
Thompson's a former track athlete and before the 2012 NFL Draft ran a 4.30 40 yard dash. He has the speed and a bit more size than Austin to make some things happen if given the opportunities.
The jet sweep has become an important staple in the Dallas Cowboys offense. Even when they don't hand it off on the sweep, they use it in play action, to set up screens, and even to get the defense thinking about it on direct hand offs to Ezekiel Elliott. They aren't going to want to scrap that part of the playbook just because Austin will be sitting out. Deonte Thompson can be that guy. Much like Marquise Goodwin in San Francisco, Thompson has elite speed.
He's not just football fast. He's fast-fast.
When I was in high school, I played baseball. In the baseball program I was fast. The fastest on the team. That was my game. Infield singles. Stretching doubles to triples. Stealing bases. I was fast. I went out for track my senior season because I thought, "hey I'm fast, let's see what would happen if I ran the 100-meter-dash." I found out really quickly that there is a difference between baseball fast and track fast.
The same applies to football and track. Deonte Thompson is track fast. He's a guy that the Dallas Cowboys need to get the ball to on those jet sweeps to continue to threaten defenses sideline to sideline. When it's working, as we've seen with Lucky Whitehead in the past and Tavon Austin this year, it opens up a lot for the Dallas Cowboys offense.
It's likely that Cole Beasley gets those first jet sweep attempts, and as a trusted veteran for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably should. But, if Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan want to continue to use the jet sweep to the offense's maximum benefit, they need to start showing it with Deonte Thompson. He has the speed to get to the corner and take it to the end zone from any where on the field.
Here's an example of what Thompson can do with the ball in his hands.
109 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!!! Deonte Thompson returns the missed field goal and runs it all the way back for a @ChicagoBears TD! #CHIvsAZ https://t.co/k9IfkZMoIY
With Tavon Austin set to be out -- possibly for the season -- it's time to see what Deonte Thompson can do. The Dallas Cowboys need to get a win here to get above .500 for the first time this season and set themselves up to make a run at the divisional crown. Deonte Thompson's ability with the ball in his hands will give them a good opportunity to do just that.
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