Editor's Note:With the understanding that position battles, roster spots and other football questions take a major backseat to the bigger issues that have been presented by COVID-19, our staff will attempt to tackle 20 of the bigger questions that this team and league faces as we get ready for the 2020 season. Today, we continue the series debating whether the Cowboys' receivers can make history.
Amari Cooper believes the Cowboys' offense can join some rare company this season.
"I think with me and Michael Gallup going for 1,000 yards last season, the expectation is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year," Cooper said via conference call this week.
That would mean first-round pick CeeDee Lamb joining Cooper and Gallup in the 1,000-yard club as a rookie. Only five receiving trios in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard seasons, most recently the Cardinals in 2008.
Will Cooper, Gallup and Lamb be the first Cowboys to reach that milestone? Our staff debates.
David Helman: It's a bold expectation on Amari Cooper's part, but honestly it seems completely plausible. Five teams in NFL history have pulled it off, including the 2004 Colts and 2008 Cardinals – so it has been done in recent history. On top of that, Randall Cobb fell just 172 yards short of 1,000 last year, so there's plenty of precedent. The fact that the Cowboys employ Ezekiel Elliott isn't even as much of a hindrance as you might think, because those 2004 Indianapolis Colts also had a 1,548-yard back by the name of Edgerrin James. Still, I'm not sure it's something I'd bet on. Cooper feels like a lock to reach 1,000 yards. He has done it in four of his five NFL seasons, and he's averaging eight targets per game as a Cowboy. Beyond that, though, Dak Prescott's favorite guy is the open guy. He's going to throw a lot of balls to running backs, and the (hopeful) emergence of Blake Jarwin is another thing to consider. I think Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb will both have great seasons, but I doubt both of them will eclipse 1,000 yards.
Rob Phillips: It's definitely realistic. Take away a couple drops, a couple penalties calling back huge gains, and Cobb might have joined Cooper and Gallup in the 1,000-yard club last year. I'll say no, the Cowboys won't have three 1,000-yard receivers in 2020, simply because there are so many options on offense. I firmly believe Ezekiel Elliott will continue to be the offense's engine. Some fans and observers might doubt that, but new head coach Mike McCarthy will lean on a strong running game if it's a strength. He did that in New Orleans with Ricky Williams in the early 2000s. Here's the other thing: if the Cowboys have more success as a team, play with more leads, Elliott and Tony Pollard will have more chances to grind out yards. The offense played from behind a lot last season. That's a big reason why quarterback Dak Prescott had at least 40 pass attempts in seven of the 16 games.
Nick Eatman: Let's just say this – I hope not. I seriously hope the Cowboys don't have three 1,000-yard receivers just like I don't really want to see Dak contend for Romo's single-season passing record. That doesn't exactly equate to on-field success. Sure, it's possible the Cowboys turn into this pass-happy offense that can't be stopped, but that usually donesn't work for long in the NFL. And with Zeke still one of the best backs in football, I don't see the Cowboys going away from that type of offense. I'm guessing the Cowboys spread things out more with the three receivers and Blake Jarwin being a receiving threat. But there's no way they will completely change their style with Zeke in the backfield. They still need to be a team that relies on a strong ground game – that being said – I don't see this team having three 1,000-yard receivers. Honestly, if things go right, they probably won't even have two. Again, that's a good thing. If this team is going to be a 10-11-12 win team, they need to be running the ball and running out the clock in the fourth quarter, not passing the ball around. Is it possible? Yes, but it's not a good thing.