Something went horrifically wrong for the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers in 2017. Before the season got underway it was thought to be a position of strength, but now looks more like a position of need heading into the off-season.
Dallas thought they put together one of the most talented units they've had in quite quite some time at the WR position. They not only brought back everyone who made the passing game so dangerous in 2016, but added Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown through the draft to improve depth. Unfortunately, things didn't quite pan out the way they thought they would.
It was painfully obvious nearly every Cowboys WR was having a down year. But, upon further examination, things were much worse than they seemed.
It can be argued the Cowboys top three wide receivers (Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams) ended up having the worst season of their entire careers, and I'll tell you why.
- Dez Bryant didn't record a single 100 yard game
- Cole Beasley didn't have more than 4 receptions in a single game
- Terrance Williams didn't score a single touchdown
I don't know about you, but I find this completely unacceptable.
This was a unit that was pretty dominant just a season ago, but somehow completely fell apart in 2017. It makes no sense at all.
It was really strange how everything just went downhill.
The normally sure-handed Dez Bryant played a lot of the season as if he had oven mitts on his hands. He was still one of the most targeted WRs in the league, but was also near the top in dropped passes. It was extremely frustrating to say the least.
So much so, Cowboys fans are questioning Bryant's future with the organization.
Cole Beasley was one of the most productive WRs for not only the Dallas Cowboys last season, but in the entire NFL. He was a reception machine and quickly became Dak Prescott's best friend in the passing game.
But, Beasley's production dipped dramatically in 2017.
Surprisingly enough, Terrance Williams‘ last touchdown was the one Tony Romo threw him in the 2016 season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. This, quite frankly, hurts for two reasons: 1) The lack of production from one of the Cowboys top three WRs, and 2) Williams not living up to his long-term contract he signed in the off-season.
The sad truth is, not one of the Cowboys WRs stepped up in 2017.
This is a group that has been productive and relatively consistent in the past, but for some reason or another, performed below expectations.
What Went Wrong with the Cowboys WRs in 2017?
Undoubtably, a lot of the blame for the lack of production can be placed squarely on the receivers shoulders. It's up to them to make plays when the ball is thrown their way.
But, I don't believe they're solely responsible, despite what some may say.
There are several reasons why things went wrong for the WRs in 2017:
- Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension hurt the production in the running game, which in turn allowed opposing defenses to sit back in coverage more instead of stacking the box.
- Tyron Smith missed several games due to injuries, which ended up causing breakdowns in protection. With lack of trust in his protection, Prescott struggled in the passing game.
- Scott Linehan's play calling became predictable, which caused frustration and discord between Dak Prescott and his WRs.
- Prescott seem to regress in his second year as the Cowboys QB because of all the above reasons, which ended up hurting not only the WRs production, but the entire offense.
As you can see, there is no way of really pinpointing the exact reason why the production from the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers dipped in 2017. It's a matter of several contributing factors that led to their horrific season.
The truth of the matter is, the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff simply weren't as prepared as they should have been. They failed to change the offensive game plan once Elliott was suspended, and they didn't have a good backup plan in place at left tackle for Tyron Smith.
Hopefully, everyone is much more prepared for next season. Fortunately, they have an entire off-season to work out all of the things that went wrong in 2017. But, will they be able to do it?