Cole Beasley is one of the best, scrappiest, and sauciest wide receivers in the National Football League. As Dallas Cowboys loyalists, we know that lesson very well.
There’s a grit to what Cole does, one that’s allowed him to not miss a single game for the Cowboys over the last three seasons. We’ve seen him take tough hits (I cringe every time I re-watch the Bears game) and have his head yanked in ways that defy the laws of physics (shout out to the referees in Pittsburgh).
Beasley has become all the rage this week as word of his hamstring injury circled around the proverbial town on Wednesday.
One guy that’s been dealing with sitting out is Cole Beasley, he cleared some things up about his hamstrings:
Cole Beasley said he still has hamstring tendinitis that cropped up late in the year, played through it. Being careful; could play if needed— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) June 14, 2017
Cole Beasley said, however, he could play today if needed and played through it last year. Believes it's more tendinitis, & just needs rest— Brandon George (@DMN_George) June 14, 2017
Cole Beasley said the receivers and Dak Prescott plan to get together in DFW ahead of training camp to “just stay in sync.”— Brandon George (@DMN_George) June 14, 2017
What do we know about this hamstring injury? Basically that it dates all the way back to Week 10 of the 2016 season:
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley said the hamstring injury that has had him sidelined this offseason has bothered him since Week 10 last year.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) June 14, 2017
The Cowboys were in Pittsburgh during Week 10, a game which they won in dramatic fashion (huzzah to the highest order). Entering that game Cole was having a great season for Dallas. He was presenting a nice option in the pass game while Dez Bryant healed, and was a big part of Dak Prescott getting comfortable in the offense.
At that juncture Cole was averaging 6.5 targets, 5.4 receptions, 62.4 yards, and 0.5 TDs per game... a stat line most would be proud of. Not to mention Cole went over 50 yards in every single game during this stretch.
Once Week 10 hit though, we saw a decline in Cole’s production. From the Steelers game on he averaged 5.8 targets, 4 receptions, 42 yards, and .125 TDs per game. He would only go over 50 yards twice here (Baltimore and on Thanksgiving against Washington) and only caught one more touchdown on the season.
It is worth noting a few things about the stretch of time from the Steelers game on:
- Dallas went through their annual awkward stretch of time. They played Baltimore on Sunday, Washington the next Thursday on Thanksgiving, Minnesota seven days later on Thursday, and went to New York 10 days later.
- Speaking of New York, the Cowboys visited the Giants and their thwarting defense on a frigid night in December. Not to mention the Cowboys played a stout defense in the Vikings.
- Week 17 is an outlier that weighs it down significantly as that wasn’t really a real game for Dallas.
You would think that one of the possible explanations for Cole’s dip in production would have been Dez Bryant’s increased role from Pittsburgh on, but the data doesn’t totally back that up.
In the five games he played before the Cowboys went to Pittsburgh Dez averaged 8.2 targets, 3.2 receptions, 56.4 yards, and .4 TDs per game. In Week 10 and beyond Dez averaged 6.9 targets, 4.3 receptions, 64.3yards, and .75 TDs per game. Dez, as they say, did more with less.
The Philly game really wrecks a lot of this data (what doesn’t Philly wreck?), and it’s worth noting that aside from that particular game Ezekiel Elliott never saw less than 20 carries in a single one from Pittsburgh on... so the Cowboys had become who they were and it wasn’t so much Cole Beasley.
Perhaps though Cole Beasley’s lingering hamstring is part of the explanation for his dip in production, and maybe that’s why the Cowboys chose to utilize their fourth-round pick on North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer.
All of us here have spent many an hour watching Switzer highlights and imagining him on the field with Cole and the gang. While that’s still a very likely reality, perhaps Switzer is also here as Beasley insurance.
We’ve seen Will McClay and Co. address needs ahead of time, even a little accidentally in the case of Dak Prescott and others. Who’s to say they aren’t excited about Switzer Sauce in the interim, but aware of Cole’s potential hamstring issues and are interested in hedging their bets a little?
Cole Beasley will very likely be healed up and rested when it comes time to get serious, but his hamstring issue could have connected the dots for us to prove, yet again, that Will McClay is out here playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else stares in amazement.