There are a great many things that need to be accomplished in camp to get the Cowboys offense retooled and ready for this season. It is my contention that stealing McVay’s magic as it relates to the role of the WR1 in the offense should be the number one goal.
There are number of ways to identify a WR1 in an offense. Most commonly, you look at who is contributing the most yards. For Dallas, even though they were paying Amari Cooper to be their WR1, CeeDee Lamb became that guy last season, which is part of reason Cooper is gone. Part.
But another way to look at what a WR1 should be is to see if he is efficiently moving the chains for your team while being targeted a great deal.
Below, I have put together a list of the top 15 high-target receivers in terms of 1st down percentage. My cutoff for the list is 115+ targets. I did this because it helps us to dial in on the receivers that are the engine of their offense. The guys that carry the load. If there can be a bell cow WR, these guys are that.
High Target, High First Down Percentage
The Rams eventually figured things out, emerged from their slump and won it all. On their final, game winning drive in the Super Bowl, facing fourth and one at their own 29 yard line, the Rams handed the ball off to Kupp, not a running back. He picked up the first down. Then he and Stafford marched the field, connecting on several passes, drawing a defensive holding on a linebacker (yes, even in the Super Bowl, they we were still getting Kupp on linebackers) and also a pass interference on Eli Apple, who simply couldn’t cover Kupp when it mattered. And then the game winning reception in the end zone for Kupp, torching Apple once again. A 16-play drive, almost entirely Kupp, because McVay and Mathews understood that he was their most potent weapon and deployed correctly, he couldn’t be stopped.
Yes, Dallas lost key players in the offseason. But Dallas is fortunate to have their Kupp-like weapon in place. Lamb is a chess piece that can be moved all over the offense. He is already converting first downs at nearly the same rate as Kupp. He has surprising strength and great open-field moves. Now Dallas just needs Moore to steal every tactic in McVay’s book to get Lamb the ball.