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Tale of the tape: Cole Beasley using route running skills to be the Cowboys “go to” guy

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Let’s take a look at the tape to see how well Cole Beasley played in the Cowboys 40-7 over the Jaguars.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Cole Beasley has been a productive player for the Dallas Cowboys over his seven-year career. Through those seven years, Beasley has racked up 280 receptions, 2,893 yards, 22 touchdowns, and he still has 10 games to go in his seventh-year.

While Beasley is a 29-year-old veteran, he is still seemingly in his youth and he put that on display last Sunday against one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Beasley had a career day against a defense that showcases the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. He hauled in nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. This game was by far his best statistical game of the season, but Beasley has been pretty much unguardable since week one.

Cole Beasley’s route running is incredible

Where Cole Beasley makes his money is his quickness and the nuances in his route-running ability. Beasley is one of the quicker slot receivers in the NFL and has great footwork and other tricks that make him very effective at the line of scrimmage, through the stem, and at the top of his routes.

Play 1 - Beasley sells the post corner to create separation

Creating separation against NFL corners is already very tough given their size, athletic ability, and how good NFL pass rushers are nowadays. Beasley consistently gets open with ease in all three levels of the field due to his quick feet, and ability to deceive defenders with the routes that he runs.

At the top of the route here (in the slot), Beasley releases as if he’s going to run a post-corner route towards the front pylon. Lined up on the safety, Beasley knows that he has a favorable matchup, and completely destroys the defensive back at the top of his route with great ankle flexion that allows him to burst out of his break towards the sideline for an easy five-six yards of separation. Dak Prescott was unable to get the ball to him here, but if the protection was able to hold up for just another second, the Cowboys could have had an easy play to Beasley.

Play 2 - Burst out of his breaks

It’s very hard to tell at the angle, and the end zone angle wasn’t any better but this is very impressive. Beasley again showcases great burst at the top of his route to run away from the DB with ease. Beasley ran a 4.49 40 yard dash at the NFL combine in 2012, but his tape showcases a much quicker player than those numbers suggest. When he makes his cut, he accelerates and leaves his defender behind.

Beasley’s instincts show up in big moments

Cole Beasley and Jason Witten have a few things in common. They acted as a safety blanket for their quarterbacks, and they both had a good feeling for when to sit down in zones and wait for the ball. Beasley does just that in big moments for the Cowboys offense.

Play 1 - Beasley destroying Jacksonville’s soft zone

It’s a really bad idea to play zone coverage against Cole Beasley, but it’s also very hard to play man coverage against a guy that runs routes the way Cole does. That makes matching up with him a very hard task for a lot of defenses.

Beasley does two great things on this play. First, he gets deep enough past the zone, that the defenders in shallow zone have no play on the ball or the receiver. Second, he does a great job of working back to the football not knowing that the Jacksonville defense had bust and no corner was in a seven yard radius when the ball was caught. Cole Beasley completely ate the Jaguars zone coverage alive, but also destroyed their man-to-man as well.

Play 2 - Beasley destroys Tyler Patmon with clean release

Beasley is at his best when he’s winning both on inside routes and outside routes. That’s exactly what he did on Sunday which made him pretty much impossible to defend, especially when the Cowboys went with their empty set.

This play is one of my favorites from the game. Tyler Patmon knows exactly what route is coming and still gets beat. After showing blitz pre-snap, Patmon comes back and completely turns his body to take away the inside move that he’s expecting from Beasley. Cole rides his route five yards upfield, before giving Patmon a stutter-step, and head fake (selling the out-route, or hitch-route) before breaking back to the inside on the slant. Credit to both Dak Prescott for delivering a good ball, and Cole Beasley for bringing it down after running an incredible route against a defensive back that was expecting exactly what came at him.

Beasley is the Cowboys red-zone threat

Elite red-zone receivers have one of two things. They either have great size and length that allow them to go up and high-point the football to bring down back shoulder fades, or they are elite route runners that can create separation in small spaces (extremely hard). As we all know, Beasley is lacking in the height category, so he makes up for it with his elite route running ability.

Play 1 - Play design, and execution gets Beasley and easy TD

A few things here. First, great design from Scott Linehan to use Michael Gallup to clear the outside corner away from the goal line. Linehan also uses Rico Gathers to pull the underneath linebackers to the middle of the field to allow Cole Beasley to eat with his route running. And that is exactly what happens. Cole Beasley runs an excellent pivot route against former teammate Barry Church. Beasley sells the shallow crosser, then sinks his hips, sticks his foot in the ground, and works back toward the boundary for the easiest six points of his career.


Cole Beasley has been talking a lot about a new contract, and he’s going to get one. Whether with Dallas or another team, someone is going to watch Beasley’s tape and pay him due to his ability to consistently get open. Beasley is on pace for one of his best seasons yet in the NFL as he enters a contract year, the Cowboys would be wise to use some of their estimated $70 million dollar cap space to make sure that the Sauce stays in Dallas for a few more years.