After two weeks of camp you can make a very strong argument that the most impressive player on offense has been Tavon Austin.
This feels like we’re living in a dream. When Dallas traded for Tavon during the draft, few held their breath. After all this was the same weapon that the mighty Sean McVay disregarded in Los Angeles, how could he be of any use to the Cowboys?
Perhaps it’s a result of lower expectations for him, but Tavon Austin is starting to get a lot of folks excited. He had a huge play during practice ahead of the blue/white scrimmage on Sunday, and we finally got to see him out of the backfield on Monday.
Jogged off practice field with Tavon Austin. He said he likes getting snaps "everywhere" and added that he believes he's having the best training camp of his six seasons in the NFL. https://t.co/aTrx2EUyeN— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) August 7, 2018
Consider that the Cowboys went over two weeks without getting Tavon involved in the backfield. So much was made about them officially listing him as a running back, and while it makes sense that he’ll certainly get touches there, more than anything Tavon has been a receiver who just lines up where he can do the most damage. That’s a very good thing.
It’s a typical training camp sort of trope to hear someone like Tavon say he’s having “his best training camp ever”, but is it really that hard to believe? It’s not like we paid much attention to how Tavon excelled during camp with the St. Louis and then Los Angeles Rams, but it is undeniable that he looks incredible from what we’ve seen so far.
The acquisition of Austin by the Cowboys may have been met with rolled eyes partly because of the lack of offensive creativity we saw last season. Dallas was accused (by many) of being predictable on offense, so what if Tavon Austin could do a lot of things then? If the Cowboys were hellbent on being vanilla, other flavors wouldn’t really impact things, right? Thankfully we’ve been surprised by what we’ve seen.
Austin has mainly been lining up as a receiver, outside and in the slot, and the results are good, including an outstanding catch for a touchdown in Saturday’s Blue/White scrimmage. They also unleashed him on a reverse that was a success. The Cowboys offense has lacked elite speed over the last few years, teams were never truly worried about getting beat deep, or about yards after catch (except maybe Ezekiel Elliott on screens). Austin can provide that element on offense, and in training camp he’s been doing it regularly.
The mere fact that the Cowboys have been lining Tavon Austin up all over the field (and lining up Cole Beasley in places outside of the slot) should instill a lot of optimism at this point in the process. Nobody’s saying that any of this means the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl this season, but it at least means that they have a creative tool and are using it in creative ways. That’s all we can feasibly want from them.
There are few hype trains collecting passengers as rapidly as Tavon Austin’s these days, and again it’s hard not to understand why. We’re only in training camp but Tavon Austin looks good, and there’s legitimate reason to believe it could translate over to the regular season.