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Will Brice Butler’s Inconsistency Create More Opportunity For Young WRs?

Brian Martin

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Many of us have been anxiously awaiting to see the offensive debut of a few of the Dallas Cowboys young wide receivers. That hasn’t happened as of yet, but with the inconsistency Brice Butler has been showing catching the ball, it could happen sooner rather than later.

The one term tossed around the most when discussing Brice Butler is inconsistency. It was the way he was described during his time with the Oakland Raiders and probably one of the contributing factors why they were willing to trade him to the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. And now, Cowboys Nation fully understands the frustration Raiders fans felt about Butler.

Since joining the Dallas Cowboys, a lot of us have wanted Brice Butler to overtake Terrance Williams on the depth chart. Butler possesses all of the talent he will ever need to become a starting WR in the NFL, but the only thing still holding him back is his inconsistency catching the ball.

It’s absolutely infuriating at times because in one instance Brice Butler will make an outstanding acrobatic catch, and in the next he drops an easy completion that hits him right in the hands. There is nothing more frustrating for coaches and especially quarterbacks then to have a WR who they can’t truly depend upon to come through when it matters.

Brice Butler’s inconsistency could unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your point of view) create more opportunities for a couple of the Dallas Cowboys young wide receivers.

WR Noah Brown

WR Noah Brown

Both Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown could start seeing more playing time if Brice Butler doesn’t start becoming a more consistent WR. Of course, it may already be too late for Butler, but only time will tell.

Switzer and Brown were both active in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos and could start seeing their playing time increase as the season progresses. They both have an advantage of over Butler because they play special teams and #19 doesn’t. But, at this point in their careers they aren’t quite as polished in the receiving game as Butler.

A lot of Cowboys fans have already been chomping at the bit to see Ryan Switzer utilized more on offense. The idea of using Switzer and Cole Beasley on the field at the same time is really intriguing and could put opposing defenses at a disadvantage. But, so far we have only seen Switzer in on a couple of offensive plays, being utilized in the return game mostly instead.

WRs Ryan Switzer, Cole Beasley, and Dez Bryant

WRs Ryan Switzer, Cole Beasley, and Dez Bryant

Switzer doesn’t the size or speed like Bryce Butler, but the Cowboys other rookie WR, Noah Brown, is pretty similar. Brown is 6’2″, 225 pounds, about an inch shorter and 5-10 pounds heavier than Butler. But, he doesn’t have the deep speed like Butler does either. Brown does however have an intriguing skill set that could be utilized in several different areas.

Even as a rookie, Noah Brown is already arguably the best blocking WR the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster. He would be a tremendous asset in the running game, while also providing a receiving threat in the passing game. Plus, let’s not forget he plays special teams as well.

I would honestly love to see Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown see more playing time on offense, but I’m not sure if the Cowboys coaching staff is ready to move on from Brice Butler just yet. But, if Butler’s inconsistency catching the ball continues, we could see the rookies earn more playing time sooner rather than later.

Do you think Brice Butler’s time is running out?

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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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22 Comments
  • Tony Farthing

    Silly notion! The whole offense is inconsistent right now. Beasley gave zero effort to catch a very “catchable” pass on 3rd and long… there’s plenty blame to go around. From what Butler showed in pre-season and last year… He’s a keeper! We should be patient with him. He stretches the field vertically and horizontally… something the “little guys” can’t do.

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys coaching staff have remained patient with Butler for nearly 3 years now. His inconsistency catching ball is apparent, which is why I think we could start seeing some of the young WRs receive more playing time.

      • Assassin

        I would add that Beazley and Switzer compliment Dak’s style perfectly, short to mid-range passes. He can dink you to death and keep the change moving. I would love to see both of them in the game at the same time on a regular basis.

        • Brian Martin

          Exactly! It’s not that Bryant has lost a step, it’s more that Prescott prefers to throw the underneath routes. Those are higher percentage completions.

          • Cris de Campos

            That’s the sort of play that will end up giving you what you got this week. You simply can’t combine a run dominant scheme with a dink and dunk passing offense and expect it to work out well. This is because the defense only has to worry about covering short and intermediate zones. Which also makes it a lot easier for the defense to tee off and be extremely aggressive at the line of scrimmage. I fear that the coaching staff in Dallas is not aware of this phenomenon. There shouldn’t even be a question… Butler should be lined up opposite Dez for the simple fact that he is 6’3, runs a sub-4.4, and wins 50-50 balls. They should be taking 3-4 deep shots to Butler per game to make safeties and the defense have to respect the deep zone of the field and account for a guy that can take a WR screen or a short crossing route all the way to the house. That would open up the field for Dez and Zeke and allow a Beasley or a Switzer to contribute important chain moving conversions when necessary. Until Dak can dissect and read a defense somewhere near the level of a really good QB, 10 passes to a Beasley per game is going to typically yield you about 7 receptions for 50-70 yards. Great, but it doesn’t make the defense worry, they still just play the short and intermediate part of the field. In a system where you probably want to throw the ball around 30 times… You’re just not going to get enough production out of that kind of game plan.

          • Assassin

            Butler is a proven non-entity. Not sure why you feel he is more than that. I gave you all his numbers. The defenses simply pay him little mind. Remember Dallas went 13-3 without a speed demon stretching the D last year.

          • Assassin

            This is the way a lot of the better teams win these days. Tom Brady has been dinking folks to death for years. We’re set up pretty well for doing this right now with Dez, Beaz and Switzer. I would expect that we set our sites on a speed receiver in the 2018 draft unless they think Terrance can handle it to stretch the field as we dont have a viable option there now. I would prefer a “hands receiver” over Terrance right now though. (and I’m a Baylor guy).

      • Tony Farthing

        Last point- Butler is a “young guy”… isn’t he? Either way, I’m sure we’ll be in position to grab a stud during draft… time to consider drafting Dez’ replacement. (Hate to say).

        But, don’t see Bease being resigned or extended unless he’s a deep discount
        Was overpaid on last contract… and SwissBeats might be a little more tougher than Cole… will snag those slants crossing the field with “max effort” at a fraction of cost. 🙂

        Use some of that $$ to upgrade Butler’s spot as well.

    • Assassin

      Wow. Of all the guys on the team, Beazley is about the last one to accuse of giving zero effort.

      Butler is exactly what we thought when we got him, a deeply flawed, deeply talented WR. He has hands of stone on some easy catches and then turns around and lays out catching the ball inches off the ground. There’s only so long you can keep a mercurial receiver on the field.

  • Assassin

    Q – did you ever play football? There are about a million different variances that come into play rather than if he can dunk a basketball – or jump whatever you feel he should jump. This guy is one of last guys on the team to accuse of giving zero effort. Let me add – not a single one of them would be in the NFL if they werent giving every bit of effort they could.

    • Tony Farthing

      Yeah… I played high school and walked-on at collegiate level… I know a little something-something… and I’ve been coaching the position (along w/DBs) for quite a few years now at the 12U-14U level.

      And every athlete experience games like DALvDEN at some point.

      I invite you to look at play… Not exaggerating to belittle Bease… Just an observation that allowed me (as a diehard fan) to accept the defeat heading into 3rd quarter… LOL!

      Bease is asked to use his quickness, not range or toughness to contribute… Butler is required to do everything we expect from a possession WR… which is extremely hard to do consistently in NFL (see Julio Jones, Green, Dez, etc.).

      On the flip-side… I have seen Butler make extremely difficult catches under/into coverage… not even 2 weeks ago. No way that ability have diminished to deem him useless.

      And last note on effort… although I’m rooting for him… He may be only player on this roster who’ve quit football (recall? DannyAmedolla outworked him and he quit.).

      Fact of the matter, he won’t be resigned… we over-paid… drafted his replacement already. Hard to find value (skill vs cost) like Butler.

      • Assassin

        The reason I ask is understanding the value of players to specific teams. Butler can certainly made plays, but he’s also cost us plays, last year percentage wise, he was at the bottom of Cowboy WRs at less than 50%. Meanwhile Beaz caught more than 3 out of every 4 that came his way.

        Beazley led the NFC’s best team last season in catches. Meanwhile Butler was 7th on the team, behind TEs and RBs. Add in the fact that nobody signed Butler when he was on the free market this offseason.

        For Butler’s career, he’s right at a 50% WR. Thats near the bottom of WRs on 53 man rosters in the NFL. Beaz is about 72%. Terrance, who has an extremely small catch radius as a body catcher, is still substansially better than Butler at about 62%. Dez gets doubleteamed nearly every play over his career and he’s still about 60%.

        Butlers value to the Cowboys is marginal at best. He’s just too undependable. And throwing long is not Dak’s regular forte. Brice was signed on a one year deal and if any of the young turks had came through, he’d probably be sitting on the curb.

        And btw – Butler is anything but a “possession receiver”. A possession receiver is one that doesnt drop balls and moves the chains, especially on third. Somebody like Cole Beazley who led the Cowboy WRs last year in first downs gained…

        • Tony Farthing

          You nailed it! Same position, different role.

          If you’re evaluating how well Butler/Bease is executing their respective roles within offense… I agree Bease is definitely most productive.

          However, I’ll argue… relatively speaking… Bease have a niche role and won’t fit onto traditional NFL roster. Same as Wes Welker… he capitalize off of any defense unwilling to take a LB out of the box and go nickle/dime with the extra DBs.

          He’s not an every down WR… and won’t have any of the success he’s enjoyed as a wideout… if he’s asked to be matched up against another fast-twitch athlete like DBs.

          He’s the latest “dink & dunk” WR.

          Despite leading team in receptions… he’s not asked to run into or manipulate coverage (pushing DBs) like Butler. He’s not a primary WR beating double teams or opponents best DBs.

          For perspective, he’s no where close to being a Wayne Chrebet, Steve Smith Sr or Terry Glenn.

          He will easily be replaced… perhaps this year by a rookie. Mainly, because playing slot in this offense is “low hanging fruit”.

          Butler have a much tougher task… He actually have to “beat” the defense.

          • Tony Farthing

            “easily replaced” is subjective…

        • Tony Farthing

          Butler showing up tonight! Happy for the kid! Hope he continues!

          Zeke too! 🙂

          • Brian Martin

            Hopefully his inconsistency is a thing of the past. The Cowboys offense could definitely use his deep speed.

  • Cris de Campos

    These arguments are such nonsense. Every… WR… Has…These…Drops. What drives me nuts is that players who have been cloaked in entitlement never hear such knocks, even if they have a long list of horrible drops. The difference is that guys like Butler have a net positive effect on the offense. Even if he had one bad drop per game, even 2, if he had 8 targets opposite Dez he’d probably fall in the neighborhood of 4-7 receptions. Those receptions would be impactful though. They’ll be big plays. He can take the top off… but he can also take a short screen to the house. That makes a defense have to worry (this is what KC does that makes them so dangerous… any of the guys they keep getting the ball in the hands of can take it to the house if one defender is out of place). Nobody on the Dallas squad has the combine numbers of Butler, and he’s simply not so bad that he shouldn’t be out there opposite of Dez. It’s nuts.

  • Tony Farthing

    Can’t be afraid to take a hit! Especially, when team need a spark. #PutSomeSauceOnIt

  • Assassin

    I’m gonna leave this conversation with an analogy. Depending on Brice Butler to become a dependable deep threat is like depending on winning Texas Lotto. Yes, there’s a chance… but infinitesimal. Butler was signed in case they couldnt get Terrance Williams signed (which if they had waited a couple of days, Butler probably wouldnt have happened). A one year band aid. Butler will make a spectacular catch or two before the year is over. He will also drop several passes which will ultimately cost us game(s).

  • Spoonydawg

    Bring on the young guns while its still early.. come play off time.. they will be ready to go…

    • Brian Martin

      I think you may get your wish this week. At least, that’s what I’m hoping anyway.

      • Spoonydawg

        We will see… Lets see if Scott is worth the money…

Player News

La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Dallas Cowboys

Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future

Sean Martin

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Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future 1

The New York Giants are not a good football team, but the Dallas Cowboys 30-10 win over the Giants in Eli Manning’s return to action left Cowboys Nation with plenty to be excited about as the team improved to 7-6.

In a stacked NFC, the Cowboys unfortunately did not get much help from scores elsewhere around the league Sunday, and the momentum they’ve built with two straight wins ahead of Ezekiel Elliott‘s return in week 16 has done little to improve their chances of reaching the playoffs.

The entire NFC East in 2017 has truly epitomized how quickly things can improve or fall apart in this league, as the Eagles clinching the title came at the cost of their franchise QB Carson Wentz – tearing his ACL to end his season.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

Dallas Cowboys’ Jourdan Lewis (27), Chidobe Awuzie (33) and Xavier Woods (25) warm ups before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Through all of this, including my own criticism of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, I can’t help but get excited about the potential this young Dallas defense is showing. The Cowboys got back in the win column two weeks ago against the Redskins, shuffling their secondary with great results.

Adding Sean Lee back to this winning formula against the Giants brought things even further into focus for the Cowboys defense though. Schematically, they were cohesive through all three levels. The longest play the Giants hit on was a 35-yard completion (against the blitz) to Evan Engram – one of their lone remaining offensive threats.

When the Cowboys dropped three straight games in weeks 10-12, the defense was desperate for Dak Prescott and the offense to play up to their potential. Prescott’s career day at MetLife Stadium was perhaps the most unsurprising development from this week, as the Cowboys found out early in this season that Prescott is in fact their franchise QB, and soon the complimentary performance turned in by this scrappy defense will be just as regularly expected.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys' Defense?

Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis continue to live up to their draft status, two lengthy defenders with ball skills that have not been seen in the Cowboys secondary for some time. Sixth round pick Xavier Woods has proved valuable at every spot these coaches play him at, contributing at Nickel CB against the Giants’ Sterling Shepard and looking comfortable.

Jeff Heath came up with an interception on what may have been Eli Manning’s last pass as a Giant against the Cowboys, and played well throughout the afternoon in his rotational role alongside Byron Jones.

At linebacker, Sean Lee’s 18 tackles with an interception only further highlighted how well Anthony Hitchens has played at the other primary LB spot. I wrote in my immediate post game Sean’s Scout that I also thought Jaylon Smith could have been utilized more in this game, but the fact that he’s played in 13 straight games for the Cowboys without additional injuries is incredible enough.

Simply put, the biggest reason the Cowboys have salvaged a shot at contending for the playoffs this season is because they’ve found a way to get back to playing complimentary football on offense and defense – even with some key absences on both sides of the ball.

The game plan is a proven one. When the Cowboys run the ball, control the clock, and allow their defense to play from ahead against hurried, one-dimensional offenses they can beat anyone.

Whether or not that means 10 wins to close this roller coaster of a season – good enough for the playoffs or not – the Cowboys are doing well to prove they’ll have staying power in the NFC for years to come.

This fate was very debatable a few weeks ago, and any team that commits to turning over their defense as much as the Cowboys did in one offseason should expect something of a regression, but the Cowboys’ future is now being written in front of us by young stars on offense and defense.

Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future

Getting more than three remaining kickoffs for guys like Awuzie, Lewis, Woods, Jaylon Smith, and Lewis Neal would certainly be ideal for the end of this season. Should the Cowboys miss out on the playoffs due to circumstances past their control though, we can all spend a few months getting very excited about what these defenders will have to say about taking matters into their own hands at the very next possible opportunity.

Tell us what you think about “Playoffs Or Not, Cowboys Defense Showing Promise For Future” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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