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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?



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…

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jekyll or Hyde: Year 3 "Prove It" Season For Dak Prescott?

Last season could've gone a lot better for Dak Prescott. After a remarkable rookie season, he wasn't able to meet the very high expectations put on him after leading the Dallas Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC in 2016.

Inevitably, the "sophomore slump" managed to get to Dak, even though the numbers make it seem worse than it really was. From his 13 interceptions in 2017, not even half can be completely blamed on him. However, even though he made improvements in his game, it's fair to admit that there was indeed, a slump in his second year in the NFL.

Earlier this week, NFL.com published an article listing the most and the least consistent quarterbacks in the league last season. The way the list works is measuring "their average 2017 swing in week-to-week passer rating." In the list, Dak Prescott is listed as the third least consistent QB in the league, with only Cam Newton and Derek Carr behind him.

Just like the Dallas Cowboys' had a roller coaster for a season, constantly shifting between winning and losing, Dak Prescott also struggled at remaining consistent. It makes a ton of sense, of course, for the Cowboys' 9-7 season had a lot of swings throughout the year.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News)

At times, the team was missing its most important defender in Sean Lee. At others, Tyron Smith and/or Ezekiel Elliott weren't on the field either. This is not an attempt to excuse Dak, for he is partly at fault here, as is the entire team.

From week 10 to 12, Dak failed to throw for a touchdown but ended up throwing five interceptions. Later in the season, failing once again to get a TD pass in two straight weeks, he threw for two interceptions at Oakland then another two when hosting the Seahawks in Dallas.

In a season that will likely determine his future with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak needs to find a way to be more consistent week after week regardless of circumstance. Hopefully, with an improved offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott leaving every suspension drama behind him, his offense will put him in position to have his best year yet.

In 2016 and in 2017, his Total Quarterback Rating has been in the top 4 among all quarterbacks, per ESPN. Now, this is not a stat that tells the whole story, but it does give you an idea of each quarterback's play. In a run-first offense and with a safe passer like Dak, I'm sure consistency will not be hard to deal with for the young QB next season.

As long as he takes advantage of the new set of targets he'll have at his disposal and his offense's powerful running back with recently-signed draftee Connor Williams, this offense will look a lot more like the one we saw in 2016.

We know Dak Prescott has a lot to prove. He has to make longer throws, throw more aggressively to get his receivers open, and more. But consistency is just as important. In order to be continuously successful and to be a contender year after year, you need that in your signal-caller. Even if key players on the team are down, he needs to be able to shine. It's a sixteen-game season, after all.

It's time for Dak to prove he can handle that.

Tell me what you think about "Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL" 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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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Most Important Backups Entering Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Most Important Backups Entering Training Camp
(Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

In less than two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys will be practicing in Oxnard, their final training camp tune up before the preseason and roster cuts. If last year is any indication, the Cowboys trim down to 53 players from 90 will be eventful as always. However, it was ultimately the depth of this final roster that failed the Cowboys in a 9-7 season falling short of the playoffs.

The loss of Ezekiel Elliott to suspension and Tyron Smith, Jonathan Cooper, and Sean Lee to injury was all too much for the Cowboys to overcome. Starting his career with a playoff appearance at 13-3, Quarterback Dak Prescott now enters a crucial third year, though he can only hope the team's free agent signings and rookies can help patch these holes.

Before the pads come on at training camp, here is a look at a few of the most important depth players the Cowboys have for 2018.

Offensive Tackle Cam Fleming

The Cowboys spent the 50th overall pick at this year's draft on their future Left Guard Connor Williams, making their signing of Cam Fleming more important. Should Williams grab hold of the starting spot left by Jonathan Cooper's departure, Fleming should serve as the Cowboys primary backup to Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

Joined only by Chaz Green and Kadeem Edwards on the depth chart at tackle, Fleming's experience should win out over the rest of the field. Also signing Guard Marcus Martin this offseason, it's clear the Cowboys want to avoid their offensive line breakdown from a year ago.

Cam Fleming needs to be in position to help the Cowboys do just that, unless Smith plays a full 16 games for the first time since 2015.

Tavon Austin, the Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Tavon Austin

Wide Receiver/Running Back Tavon Austin

Whatever role Tavon Austin finds in the Cowboys offense, this is a play maker the Cowboys will have to get the ball to in a variety of ways. Expected to partially take the load off of Ezekiel Elliott as a running back while also being targeted in the passing game, Austin could very well influence the team's roster decisions at both RB and WR.

Two uncertain positions when it comes to depth, Austin's presence could mean bad news for Running Backs Darius Jackson and Bo Scarbrough, or Wide Receivers Lance Lenoir, KD Cannon, and Noah Brown.

We're still a long way off from knowing if a decision like this will be the right one for the Cowboys, but with so much uncertainty on offense entering 2018, Tavon Austin's importance could grow by the day in Oxnard.

Linebacker Justin March-Lillard

Needing to address the linebacker position heavily this offseason, the Cowboys locked in on Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick and selected him at 19th overall. With the 193rd overall pick, the Cowboys also added Indiana Linebacker Chris Covington.

Expected starters Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Vander Esch will still need quality depth behind them to play to their strengths this season.

A healthy Lee is locked in as this team's starting WILL linebacker, but the Cowboys are expected to test both Vander Esch and Smith at the MIKE position.

"The loser of this battle" moving to SAM linebacker is not so simple, especially considering other athletic options the Cowboys have for this strong side role. Along with Damien Wilson, the Cowboys have also seen strides from Justin March-Lillard.

Capable of contributing on special teams and providing important snaps in Rod Marinelli's defense, March-Lillard should be a hard player for the Cowboys to leave off their final roster. If he survives to the final 53, expect him to also be active on game days in support of the Cowboys LBs.

Quarterback Cooper Rush

What exactly do the Cowboys have in second-year Quarterback Cooper Rush, an undrafted sensation out of Central Michigan? Showing the potential to be Dak Prescott's primary backup or an enticing trade piece to QB-needy teams as a rookie, Rush is now joined by a new rookie on the depth chart.

Drafting Mike White in the fifth round, the Cowboys have plenty of skill at quarterback this season. The scope of this list is not to cover how well the Cowboys are prepared to play without Prescott.

Playing with two quarterbacks or three on the roster will be a looming decision for the Cowboys though. Either Rush or White could prove they deserve the second and last QB spot, with Rush's progress from last year challenged by White's accuracy.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Of course, more Cowboys backups will emerge as ones to keep an eye on, once the Cowboys are back on the field. With several coaches and 'big name' players potentially needing this season to reach the playoffs for the Cowboys, a second straight season of depleted depth won't cut it.

Such is the nature of the Cowboys roster cuts, with the final 53 man roster set on September 1st.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Most Important Backups Entering Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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