clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys news: NFL analyst explains why Dak Prescott DOESN'T need a WR1

Latest Cowboys headlines: Dak Prescott wants to spread the ball around; Scott Linehan likes revamped WR corps; worst sports blunders in Texas.

Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Dak Prescott DOESN'T need a WR1 - Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
In his notebook, Bucky Brooks explains why Dak Prescott's right -- the Cowboys do not need a bona-fide star at receiver.

"I don't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver," Prescott said, via Pro Football Talk. "It's about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes."

What?! In a passing league, where it's all about pitch-and-catch aerial acrobatics, this 24-year-old QB is basically saying elite pass catchers are irrelevant?

As crazy as that initially sounds, the young gunslinger might be right.

I can see why Prescott believes his team doesn't need a so-called WR1. After all, Prescott saw firsthand how Bryant failed in that role over the past two seasons. Say what you want about Prescott and his "sophomore slump," but there's no denying that No. 88's ineffectiveness as the Cowboys' lead receiver impacted the young gunslinger's opinion on the importance of the WR1. Bryant was targeted on 133 pass attempts in 2017, but finished with 69 receptions. A 51.8 percent catch rate just isn't acceptable for such a high-volume wideout, and it certainly isn't efficient enough to prompt unshakeable confidence from the quarterback.

With that in mind, I can understand why Prescott is suggesting his team might be better off "spreading the ball around," instead of force-feeding one designated playmaker. Prescott watched his efficiency numbers slip when he kept targeting Bryant, instead of utilizing everyone. Freed from the burden of appeasing Dez's desires, the young quarterback can simply make his reads and hit the open man. This is how the majority of elite quarterbacks operate -- and it's the way systematic play callers prefer the offense to flow on game day.

He's right -- he doesn't need an elite receiver on the perimeter. An offense's success ultimately rests on the quarterback and his talents. If the QB is legit, he can maximize a starless system with a bunch of B-level playmakers. We've seen it done over and over again, and Dallas should be able to move the ball with the current cast of characters in the WR room. Remember, the Cowboys and others (SEE: the Los Angeles Rams) have been able to alleviate the pressure on receivers by featuring an A-plus playmaker in the backfield. Ezekiel Elliott forces defensive coordinators to put eight or nine defenders in the box, which presents Cowboys receivers with more one-on-one coverage.

If Scott Linehan can craft an offense that allows his unheralded pass catchers to operate in space, Prescott could show the football world he's not just blowing smoke.


Inside story behind the Cowboys' new route-guru WRs coach, and his plan to revamp the receiving corps - Brandon George, SportsDay
Brandon George provides some details behind Sanjay Lal's path to becoming the Cowboys new receiver coach, including why he was so coveted by other teams.

Lal cares about the finer details of routes, from how to line up in a proper stance, to finding the right depth, to maximizing leverage, to camouflaging a forthcoming break, and so on.

"It's choreography," Lal said of route running. "If you have a free-access look, you can't be thinking about yards and depth. This has to be muscle memory. We're working our footwork, our angles, how far our feet spread apart at the top of a break, where our shoulders are, where our eyes are pointed, and you've got to coach the minutia or it doesn't happen.

And offensive coordinator Scott Linehan can already see the effects of Lal.

"I can already see a lot of things out here that are a direct impact of what he's teaching," Linehan said. "He just kind of gets the position. He played it. He was one of those, I don't want to call him an overachiever type, but he was one of those guys who had to get the most out of his own abilities. He sees that in players who have the ability beyond that. He's been great."

What are reasonable expectations for Cowboys WR Allen Hurns in 2018? - Newy Scruggs, SportsDay

Newy Scruggs answers a few questions, including his expectations of new free agent wide receiver Allen Hurns.

Q: What do you think are reasonable stats to expect from Allen Hurns in 2018?

Scruggs: If Allen Hurns had a thousand yard season and caught five touchdowns it would be a productive year for him as a starting wide receiver in Dallas.

Dez Bryant's wait to sign with new team could last until training camp, report says - Staff, SportsDay
Former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant still hasn't signed with a new team, but according to Ian Rapoport, it's not because of a lack of interest.

"He's received several phone calls from teams wanting to sign him. It's more of Dez Bryant wanting to make sure he has a perfect fit, a winning organization, and a team willing to do a one-year, prove-it deal."

A 'prove-it deal' was not what the Baltimore Ravens were able to give Bryant when they offered him a three-year deal in April before the former Cowboy turned them down.

The trick Cedrick Wilson picked up from A.J. Green to improve his game - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Some players go fishing, some do yoga, Wilson juggles.

Wilson watched a feature on Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green, which revealed that Green has been juggling since he was young. Wilson figured, what the heck? If it was good enough for Green, maybe it could help Wilson with all-important hand-eye coordination, too.

Wilson, whose father played receiver in the NFL, said he still juggles tennis balls and footballs to keep his technique sharp. He's eager to improve as a complete receiver, especially under new position coach Sanjay Lal, who has a reputation as a route-running guru.

"I feel I can catch the ball. Now I'm moving on to route running," Wilson said.


With finishing flurry to 2017, Taco Charlton ready to silence doubters - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Taco didn't explode out of the gate, but his strong finish gives fans a reason to be optimistic about the upcoming seasons.

Charlton finished the year with three sacks, which is a decent enough year for any rookie defensive end. However he had two sacks, four quarterback hits and seven hurries in the final five games of 2017.

His pass-rush productivity for those final five games was 10.6 over exactly 100 pass-rush snaps. If he can get 350 pass-rush snaps (just 120 more than his total from 2017) on the season at the pace of his final five games, with no accounting for technique refinement and knowledge increase, he projects to having a seven-sack, 14-hit, 24.5-hurry campaign.

Those are numbers only bested by Lawrence and David Irving.

Can Taco Charlton make DeMarcus Lawrence-like jump? - Tim Kohut, The Landry Hat
Fans are interested in watching what Taco can do in year two. Despite a slow start, the opportunity for a big jump is there. As Tim Kohut points out, you don't have to go back very far to see something like that happen.

Lawrence’s injury-plagued rookie year produced zero sacks in seven games. Charlton, at least, has a leg up on him, playing in all 16 games, and garnering three sacks. The rookie defender especially came on during the second half of the season, where he recorded all three of his QB takedowns over the final eight games.

Where Charlton can learn from Lawrence, however, would be in year two. Lawrence recorded eight sacks in his second season in the NFL, and, like Charlton, came on strong in the second half of the season. Lawrence recorded seven of his eight sacks over the last seven games of the 2015 season.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Charlton made a similar jump in year two, especially considering he has nine more games under his belt than Lawrence did, along with three more career sacks.

Jihad Ward happy for fresh start - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys traded Ryan Switzer to get the Raiders 2016 second-round pick, Jihad Ward. While he hasn't produced with the Raiders so far, the Cowboys are hoping a change of scenery changes that.

"Man, I don’t even want to talk about [the trade]," Ward said. "I don’t want to talk about the Raiders. I just want to say thank you for the opportunity. I was surprised, but ever since I’ve been coached by the Cowboys at the Senior Bowl, they’ve shown interest. I’ve wanted to be here.

"I’m just worried about being here and making the team better."

The hope is Ward is able to develop into the type of player the Raiders envisioned when they used that high of a pick on him. For now, he provides the Cowboys with interior depth and position flexibility to play on the edge if needed.

As coach Jason Garrett said shortly after the team acquired Ward, "We feel like he fits in our scheme of being an up-the-field pressure guy. A guy who can disrupt the running game and affect the passer."

The Biggest Developments from Every NFL Team's OTAs - Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report
Whether it's a young player trying to make an impression or a veteran proving his worth, OTAs provide many opportunities to strut your stuff. Bleacher Report takes a look at the interesting storylines around the league, including the possible extinction of Dino?

Dallas Cowboys: David Irving still sidelined

When he's on the field, David Irving has shown to be one of the more disruptive "three-technique" defensive tackles in the National Football League. In eight games last season, Irving piled up seven sacks.It's that "when he's on the field" part that keeps tripping things up. Irving sat out the first four games of the 2017 season because of a suspension. The 24-year-old sat out the last four with a concussion. And now Irving's a spectator at OTAs, sidelined not by injury or discipline but by conditioning—or lack thereof.

Per Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was clear he'd prefer Irving had been on the field for workouts, saying he wasn't sure if Irving would participate in June minicamps. "Just wait and see," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "You'd just love to have him working, no question about it. But the guys that are here, I'm going all-out. Man, I just give everything I've got to the guys who are here because they deserve that."

By the time September gets here, this may be much ado about nothing. But Irving isn't exactly making a good first impression where 2018 is concerned.


Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys offensive line? Gone fishin' - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
We know that the Cowboys offensive line is a close group, but this weekend, their star running back is hosting a fishing getaway with those big-body teammates who clear the way for him. Center Travis Frederick speaks out on how strong the bond is.

"That's one of the things that makes our offensive line able to have success, the amount of time we spend together off the field and the relationship that we have," Frederick said. of that excursion. "When you're in offseason, some guys are out of town or here and there, and we make time together to go somewhere together and do something, I think that makes a huge difference. There was a lot of great bonding time there. ... It was fun and it was awesome that Zeke joined us for that. I think he's just excited to get back into things and be a part of the group and he wanted to be in that bonding experience as well."

Will the Cowboys keep three QBs on the 53-man roster? - Kristi Scales, SportsDay
A stellar preseason forced the Cowboys to keep Cooper Rush on the roster so he wouldn't be snatched from the practice squad. Fast forward a year later, and the team may have to save a spot for another rookie who is impressing in camp.

By late October, Rush worked his way up to second-team as veteran backup Kellen Moore was released and re-signed to the practice squad. But this offseason, Rush will be looking over his shoulder at another quarterback who will make a push for the final roster: Mike White.

White is the Cowboys' 5th round draft pick that, through only 4 days of OTAs, was drawing praise from head coach Jason Garrett for his "poise" and "handling himself the right way". Garrett also noted that "he's making good decisions at the line".


Worst Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers, Stars. TCU playoff errors - Peter Dawson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
With J.R. Smith's recent blunder at the end of game one of the NBA Finals, some gut-wrenching memories are being conjured up in the Texas area. From the Dez "no-catch" to the infamous Tony Romo bobbled snap on a field goal attempt, Peter Dawson examines some of the most notorious blunders, including one play that was most definitely not a catch.

2. Jackie Smith's end zone drop in Super Bowl XIII

With 2:46 left in the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII against the Steelers, one of the best receivers in Cowboys history could have made a big difference on one particular play. Instead, a wide-open Smith dropped a pass in the end zone, and Pittsburgh went to claim their third Super Bowl, 35-31.

For those of you who missed the J.R. Smith gaffe, With the game tied, Smith came down with the rebound on a missed free throw. Thinking the Cavs were ahead, he then proceeded to try to run the clock out. Here’s quick little recap: