Jason Witten is set to become the all-time leader for receiving yards in Dallas Cowboys history this postseason, which is a remarkable honor for the future Hall of Fame tight end.
The depth behind him though is relatively nonexistent, as the Cowboys will enter the playoffs without the services of James Hanna or Geoff Swaim at TE. Instead, it will be the always reliable Witten paired with the anything-but-reliable Gavin Escobar to round out this unit.
Let’s breakdown both players in another edition of Playoff Primer.
What more is there to say about Jason Witten? A 14-year veteran, Witten has only played in the playoffs five times in his silver and blue career. Through playoff seasons like this one to 4-12 campaigns from just a year ago though, Witten has always maintained a level of professionalism that is unrivaled throughout the NFL.
Fortunately for Witten, as he focuses on chasing down the Super Bowl he deserves so much, four of the remaining five teams in the NFC Playoffs rank in the top ten when it comes to receptions allowed to opposing tight ends this postseason.
Once a reliable target for Tony Romo (I’m not crying, you are), Jason has proved to be much of the same for rookie QB Dak Prescott. Witten may look a step behind in this fast paced Dallas offense at times, with his age showing as a flag flies for his weekly false start or holding penalty, but he is still just as trusty with the ball in his hands to move the sticks on critical downs.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to advance through the playoffs, it almost feels like a guarantee that Jason Witten will make some memorable plays, and Cowboys Nation should be very excited. Particularly, I think we’ll see a fair share of throws from Prescott outside of the pocket, where Witten can get moving across the field to free himself for easy receptions.
This is where my job gets funny sometimes. I could tell you what to expect from Gavin Escobar this postseason, but in this case your guess is truly just as good as mine.
What we do know is that Escobar, when given opportunities, can be a dynamic pass catcher. The problem for the second round pick from 2013 has been getting those opportunities in a scheme that does not fit him.
A lot of NFL Draft minded Cowboys’ fans are already calling for this team to use their first round pick this year on a TE to seemingly replace Escobar (who will be a free agent). The logic makes sense, since the one area of the field Dallas has not been able to consistently attack in the passing game is the deep middle area.
For now, Escobar is Scott Linehan’s only real threat in this area, entering the Divisional Round with just four catches for 30 yards this season.
Maybe Gavin Escobar’s shining moment in the star has not come yet, as he’ll run wide open on a pivotal play sometime in the next few weeks. Or maybe, and more realistically, he’ll stand lost on the sideline on his path towards Super Bowl LI – watching Jason Witten put in work at his position.
If Escobar was a better blocker, he would absolutely play an important role for the Cowboys moving forward, but they will instead miss Hanna and Swaim in these roles. Gavin is truly just a receiving tight end, that hasn’t done a lot of receiving over the last four seasons.
As you enjoy the conclusion of Wild Card Weekend, make sure to stay posted to Inside The Star as I round out the offense in this series before moving on to the defense. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the most important position in sports – the quarterbacks.
Before the Dallas Cowboys kickoff in the Divisional Round against either the Green Bay Packers or New York Giants, Playoff Primer will preview every position on the Cowboys, and you can discuss any of these articles with me on Twitter @ShoreSportsNJ!