The offense of the Dallas Cowboys is struggling this season. In the team’s four losses, they are averaging 13.5 points a game and have never scored over 17 points in any of those games. Even more frustrating is that the defense is playing well. With the lone exception of the Seattle game where they allowed 24 points, the Cowboys defense has given up 16, 16, and 13 points through four quarters of football in those loses. That’s a hard pill to swallow because we can all do the math and draw a conclusion as to what this team’s record would be if the offense could have done a little bit more. Not a lot more, but a little more.
From game to game, there are a handful of factors that play a part in the Cowboys offensive woes. Sometimes it’s the play of Dak Prescott as he doesn’t make the throws he should be making. Sometimes it’s the offensive line, with the inconsistency of a rookie guard combined with having both their tackles committing costly penalties way more than they should. While those things are definitely problems, the Cowboys are also not getting enough from their wide receiver group to give their young quarterback the best possible chance to be successful. The Cowboys front office officially waved the white flag on their wide receiver experiment and shelled out a 2019 first-round draft pick to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. Now, the question begs - will Amari give them the offensive boost they need to win football games?
The Cowboys front office personnel pride themselves on landing one of the good ones from the draft and they have the resumé to prove it, but let’s not forget that Cooper is already established as one of the good ones from his draft. In 2015, there were 256 total players selected in the draft. Only 14 of those players have made the Pro Bowl. Only five of those players have made it twice. Cooper is one of those five players.
There is no denying that Cooper looked like a superstar in the making after his first two seasons in the league. His exceptional route-running skills, acceleration at the top of his routes, and ability to deceive defenders make him a very appealing weapon for any offense. But he also has a history of dropping passes and at times can be invisible. That won’t change in Dallas. He’ll have games where he won’t make much of an impact on the stat sheet, especially on an offense that will feature a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott.
But Cooper is going to give the team something valuable. His ability to create separation will change the way the Cowboys opponents defend them, because when it comes to that attribute - Cooper is one of the best in the league. Even in what people are considering a down year so far for Amari, he’s still demonstrating he can create space.
Amari Cooper will join the Cowboys WR corp that has averaged 2.2 yards of separation when targeted this season, worst in the NFL.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 22, 2018
Cooper has averaged 3.8 yards of separation on 31 targets, 4th-highest among 64 wide receivers, min. 30 targets.#DallasCowboys #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/ug5ln2Klk3
And this one special trait of his will be like the jelly of the month club - it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
With separation, he will give Dak Prescott an open target, and let’s face it - Dak needs his receivers to be open for him to throw them the ball.
The threat of having a wide receiver who can get open will have a trickle down effect on the rest of the receivers. Each receiver will get a one-level-down-defender lining up against them now, all courtesy of Cooper drawing the defense’s top corner. Cole Beasley absolutely dominated in 2016 when defenses had to pay attention to a still-respected Dez Bryant.
And when the passing game actually poses a threat again, defenses can’t stack the box as much and we all know who is going to benefit from that. Despite all the trouble the offensive line has had protecting Prescott in the pocket this season, one thing they can still do well is run-block.
These are the best RUN BLOCKING offensive lines in football this year.#DallasCowboys #LARams #GoNiners #KeepPounding #DaBears #BroncosCountry #Jets #OnePride #GoPats #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/mgqOM7G77U— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 22, 2018
Unfortunately, that’s a talent that becomes wasted when they’re constantly facing an overloaded front ready to stop the run.
The Cowboys are hoping that the addition of Cooper can fix all that. Providing a target that Prescott is more inclined to use will definitely help. Dak has shown he can be dangerous at times, when he takes those shots, but he hasn’t been willing to pull the trigger. Just like that saying goes - you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him throw a 90-yard touchdown pass.
Before Dak Prescott fumbled the ball in the end zone for a Redskins TD, he looked at a juking Michael Gallup ... and then looked away from a WIDE OPEN Michael Gallup ♂️ #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/7XfCGo0YkY— ™️ (@TommySledge) October 21, 2018
How the addition of Cooper helps the offense remains to be seen, but we have to be excited about the possibilities. The Cowboys offense has gone through a rough patch of tough defenses so far this season and things are going to get easier for them as the season progresses, but they must have the ability to capitalize or else it means nothing.
The Cowboys first 9 games are against 7 teams ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 24, 2018
The Cowboys last 7 games are against 5 teams ranked in the bottom 8 of scoring defense.
A poor offense has hurt Dallas thus far, but they absolutely must cash in on what lies ahead.
If Cooper can provide enough of a jolt to turn just one of those Cowboys field goals into a touchdown, that alone would be significant. A four-point boost would have turned their last two losses into wins and we’d all have a much different outlook on things if they went into the bye with a 5-2 record. With as well as the defense has been playing, a little bit of an offensive spark could go a long way. Let’s hope Cooper provides that spark.