Dallas Cowboys Struggling At Wide Receiver Position
Once upon a time in the land of preseason, I wrote Dallas Cowboys fans need not worry about the third wide receiver position. My reasoning was sound, so I thought. Imagine my surprise in watching the first eight weeks of the season and being terribly disappointed.
To start off, I thought Miles Austin and his hamstrings would be fine and the Cowboys were just being very cautious with a player they knew they needed for the season. Turns out I was right about that, but I had no idea that Austin was going to drop all these passes. Of course, he’s not alone, but he has significant drops that are unacceptable. They have led to stalled drives and led to the Cowboys defense being on the field more than they should.
Austin has also been a lazy receiver and there is no excuse for that. Running with the ball exposed cost the team a drive already this season and his nonchalant ways may have cost Dallas the game against the Baltimore Ravens. When Tony Romo threw to Dez Bryant with 0:26 seconds left and was trying to rally his offense back to line to run another play, where was Austin? Down the field, walking back to the huddle. An amateur move by a professional wide receiver; the Cowboys are not getting their money’s worth out of Austin.
Moving onto Dez Bryant, who I thought was ready to take off and have a monster season! Boy was I wrong on that one. Yes, Bryant shows flashes of brilliance but he makes mental mistakes that cost the Cowboys points. How is it that a third year wide receiver still doesn’t know how to run a proper route? It completely baffles me that a player with Bryant’s ability still hasn’t learned how to play the position at a higher level.
Spare the talk about his “upside” because we still haven’t seen it consistently and that’s what the NFL is all about, doing the same things day in and day out to be successful. It’s what Jason Garrett preaches but it doesn’t look like the message has gotten to Bryant. His drops have been a huge issue for the Cowboys and Tony Romo this season. He’s dropped way too many passes and it’s cost them games. The 2-pt conversion was the biggest one but there have been too many instances where Bryant has dropped a pass or run the wrong route.
That’s just a look at the Cowboys top two wide receivers; players who were supposed to carry this passing game. After Bryant and Austin, the third receiver spot was the one most of us were worried about. I mentioned there was no need to worry because Jason Witten was essentially the third wide receiver on the team and they needed a “4th” receiver to step up.
Again, I was wrong. Not about Witten, but about a wide receiver stepping up as the number three, or four, wide receiver. Sure, Kevin Ogletree has shown flashes of playing that role but his play continues to be spotty at best. He had a great opening game but since then he’s shown the inconsistencies that made him a fourth or fifth option on the Cowboys for the past few years. He’s another player that drops passes every game and also struggles to run routes. Ad he’s also guilty of loafing it back to the line of scrimmage with the clock running down in Baltimore.
The only thing the Cowboys receivers have been this season is inconsistent. Never mind the team doesn’t have a number three wide receiver, who is the number one guy? All of them have too many lapses and drops to be considered a number one receiver and it’s killing Tony Romo. Think about it, does Eli Manning worry about his receivers on every play? How about Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers?
You can’t have a high powered offense when your number one receiver is your tight end, it just doesn’t work. Defenses need to be scared of getting beat deep and the Cowboys can’t do that consistently. We scream at Jason Garrett for his offense but a lot of these issues are linked to the receivers letting the team down.
If the receivers could hold onto the ball, they could keep drives alive and get the running game going. If Austin, Bryant and Ogletree could catch the ball with any kind of consistency, maybe the defense would loosen up and drop an extra defensive back into their packages. I’m guessing seeing one less man in the box would help the run game tremendously.
Right now that isn’t the case, not when your most consistent receiver is a possession tight end. If you want the Cowboys want to open up the down field passing attack, perhaps you should hope for less drops and better route running. Then you’ll see the offense open up.
I don’t know about any of you but I’d like to see more Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris if the drops continue. Why keep putting Ogletree out there if he can’t catch the ball? Stop beating your head against the wall and let’s see what some of the other receivers can do, who knows, they might surprise you!
So yes, I was wrong about the Cowboys receivers but I’m not sure anyone could have seen the amount of drops from the Cowboys coming. Unless you used history as a guide; those who don’t learn from it, are bound to repeat it.
you can follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi
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