It hasn’t even been a week since the Dallas Cowboys missed out on acquiring Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks, but we have already moved on to bigger and better narratives as all eyes are now drawn toward former star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Suddenly, the veteran wideout is being framed as some type of hot commodity or even the missing piece in helping a team win a Super Bowl.
It’s true that he was one of a handful of pieces who were exactly that for the Los Angeles Rams last season. While his eight games during the regular season were very Noah Brown-like statistically last year, he came alive in the postseason. Such a thing resonates deeply with fans looking for the big prize, but before we try to snag this one out of thin air, let’s take a moment to use both hands and think this thing through.
First off, there is a laundry list of reasons that some fans do not care for Beckham Jr. Spending five years on a divisional rival doesn’t help, but he’s been the center of a lot of drama over the years. He’s been involved in fights with opposing cornerbacks Josh Norman (suspended one game for delivering a cheap shot) and Marlon Humphrey and he’s gotten into a beef on the sidelines with his head coach and a kicking net. He’s also been caught up in some questionable off-field behavior whether it’s being seen on national TV handing money to LSU players (he was banned from the facility for two years) or being caught on video in bed near a white substance.
But all that is in the past. While those behaviors may be viewed as problematic to some, it’s not going to be a part of this assessment. What’s important is what can he offer the Cowboys right now. If he’s turned over a new leaf, good for him, and all that matters now is if he can help make this Cowboys offense more explosive.
A year ago this time, Beckham Jr. was outright released from the Cleveland Browns. They got absolutely nothing for him. The Browns felt they were a better team without him. Then, he was in little demand as he only signed a one-year deal worth $1.25 million with the Los Angeles Rams. So, let’s be clear. Nobody was seeing this guy as a huge value to their team.
The Rams had an explosive passing attack. He was a good fit for them. And when it mattered the most, OBJ came through for them and they have a Super Bowl win to show for it. But does that mean the Cowboys could replicate this same type of Beckham benefit?
We profess that it would not.
Beckham Jr. is now 30 years old and is coming off an ACL injury. All accounts are he’s recovering just fine, but will he have that same explosiveness? There is a range of outcomes that have him making a minimal contribution coming back from an injury and jumping into a brand-new offense for what would likely be a short stay.
Speaking of this offense, how does he fit with the Cowboys? We felt the sputtering of the offense early, but the team now has Dak Prescott back and suddenly things are starting to trend up in a hurry. The Bears’ defense, with the help of defensive-minded Matt Eberflus, entered last week as the sixth-stingiest defense in the league allowing just 18.9 points a game. The Cowboys just unloaded on them.
Cowboys have scored nine offensive touchdowns in their past six quarters. Seven came with three tight ends on the field, including four TDs in last Sunday’s win over Bears. “The stuff that they’re doing is behind the scenes, and they get joy out of that.” https://t.co/XpjIf2CzfC pic.twitter.com/cRGBXqFrlS— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 4, 2022
Take a moment to let that Tweet marinate.
The Cowboys have their starting quarterback in the lineup. They have a running game that wears teams down. They use their tight ends extremely well to where they can at any given point have extra blockers for the run or sneak uncovered pass-catchers in space. They keep the game simple for Dak, they keep defenses scrambling to cover a lot of space, and they seek favorable matchups. One might think that just adding a talent like Beckham Jr. would only make that even better, but who’s coming off the field in those instances? Is the offense suddenly going to run more three wide receivers sets? How many targets are you looking to give him and whose touches is he taking? Michael Gallup’s? Tony Pollard’s? Fergushot’s? Noah Brown’s? If he replaces Brown, can he also be called upon to in-line block as effectively as Brown does?
Recency bias has magically inflated Beckham’s value. In fact, FOX’s Jay Glazer believes there will be a big bidding war for his services. Before we get too excited about adding a player like OBJ, we need to ask ourselves, what would the Cowboys actually be gaining?
The offense is just starting to get their feet underneath them and having a consistent offensive machine is very favorable when you couple it with the defense this Cowboys team has. This isn’t a Matthew Stafford fling-it-up-for-grabs type of offense where big shots are vital to the team’s success. What works for one team may not work for the other. So, while adding a player like Odell Beckham Jr. may look like the flashy thing to do, I’ll take the substance of this Cowboys offense as they are just getting rolling.