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Is Cole Beasley Looking At A Lesser Role In 2016?

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.

Brian Martin

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

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.

A lot of people were hoping that Terrance Williams would hopefully step up and lessen the blow in Bryant''s absence, but the player I was expecting to see more from was Cole Beasley.

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.

Receptions Yards TD
2012 15 128 0
2013 39 368 2
2014 37 420 4
2015 52 536 5

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

Cowboys Headlines - Is Cole Beasley Looking At A Lesser Role In 2016? 1

(AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

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

Cowboys Headlines - Is Cole Beasley Looking At A Lesser Role In 2016? 2We all know that the Cowboys are going to return to the 2014 blueprint and place an emphasis on running the football.

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.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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7 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    The “emergence” of Brice Butler??? Because he is 6-3 and 215 and fast everybody automatically assumes he is going to be good. Lets not forget that he could not make it in Oakland when they were starving for receivers. And he had all of 12 catches last year and 8 of them came in the last two games. He was hamstring most of the season. Im on record saying there is more style than substance with Butler and folks should temper their expectations until he actually does something.

    • Mark Douglas

      Oakland actually has a deeper WR corp than Dallas. Butler could no longer crack the top 4 in Oakland yet he is widely considered a good candidate to unseat Williams as the #2.
      Don’t sleep on him.

    • Mark Douglas

      The most prominent factor that will likely lead to a drop in Beasley’s production is the emergence of Lucky Whitehead who can play the slot and now go outside due to his offseason work in the weight room which has packed on 15 lbs.
      Whitehead is much faster and reliable with the ball in his hands. ( no turnovers)

      • Brian Martin

        I don’t see Whitehead as an outside receiver. I think if he challenges anybody for a more involved role on offense it will be Lance Dunbar. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan started using Whitehead similar to the way he was using Dunbar towards the end of the 2015 season. I think we might see that continue if Dunbar can’t return fully healthy at the beginning of the season.

    • Brian Martin

      Butler had some encouraging moments in 2015, but wasn’t really able to fully display the type of receiver I think he can become because he battled with a reoccurring hamstring injury. I don’t disagree that we should probably temper our expectations, but I think given the opportunity he will provide a skill set that isn’t currently on the Cowboys roster at receiver.

  • http://PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

    One offsetting factor could be Jason Witten’s slow decline. Beasley seems a good candidate to get more of those short-range, underneath catches as Witten’s ability to get open wanes.

    • Brian Martin

      I think I can agree with that assessment. Witten has probably slowed down just a little, but he seems to make up for it with his veteran saviness. I think Beasley’s role will mostly depend on Butler’s contribution though.

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Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018

Jess Haynie

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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.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

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.



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Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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3 Current Starters Cowboys' Fans Hate, But Shouldn't 1

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.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

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.



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Report: Austin Heading to IR: Deonte Thompson is the Next Man Up

John Williams

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Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson Making Preseason Debut Vs. Cardinals

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.

Brandon George on Twitter

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.

NFL on Twitter

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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