FRISCO, Texas – All week long, we’ve been talking about the digit 1, and all week long I keep thinking the more important number is really a 2.
Obviously, the decision to punt the ball in overtime has been discussed over and over. And as I’ve stated several times, I really didn’t have a problem with it because going off what you had just seen in the last 10-15 minutes, it looked like the smarter thing to do, considering you were just stopped on third down and your defense was playing well.
But we all know what happened, so the ones who say you go for it have an opportunity to complain.
However, let’s not forget that it wasn’t really fourth-and-1. It was a lot closer to fourth-and-2, which is actually what the scoreboard at NRG Stadium read when Chris Jones went out to punt.
OK, moving on.
The next biggest topic has been about the wide receiver position. All week, Jerry Jones and even Stephen Jones have responded to questions about the need for a No. 1 by stating this:
A) Jerry said they really haven’t had a No. 1 receiver in three years.
B) Stephen said there isn’t a No. 1 receiver out there on the street.
Both answers seem to imply what they think, and thought, of Dez Bryant.
But here’s my real issue with this team right now:
Forget No. 1 receiver. Can I get someone playing like a No. 2?
The term No. 1 receiver is kind of overblown because, technically, there should be 32 guys in the league as a No. 1 receiver. But clearly, that’s not the case. It’s kind of like when teams have only 18 first-round grades in an NFL draft, yet they’re picking 27th overall. Well, obviously that means they’re expecting to take a player earlier than they would’ve hoped, but that’s just how it goes.
Just like there aren’t 32 players worthy of a first-round grade, there aren’t 32 players worthy of being a “No. 1 wide receiver.”
Cool, got it. Great.
But what about a No. 2 then? If you don’t have a No. 1, then surely you’ve got somebody who can be a No. 2? You should have about two or three of those guys.
And that’s really where this thing is troubling for the Cowboys right now. They don’t make up for not having that stud receiver by having two or three good receivers in return.
So I did a little research this week. I noticed where Cole Beasley is leading the team in receiving with 193 yards. That ranks 79th in the NFL overall.
Let that sink in a little first. The Cowboys’ leading receiver ranks 79th in the league. Yes, it matters that the Cowboys have the league’s leading rusher, but maybe not to that extent.
So I went around the league to see how normal this is, and come to find out, it’s not. Buffalo is the only team in the NFL with a leading receiver further down the list than Dallas.
There are 24 teams in the NFL that have two players with more receiving yards than the Cowboys’ leader. There are 14 teams with three different guys above Beasley. We’ve got six teams with four guys better than Beasley’s 193.
And there are two teams that have five, yes FIVE guys on their team with more receiving yards than that. It’s not like Oakland and Pittsburgh are setting the world on fire with offensive production.
Again, these aren’t just wide receivers. Some of the teams mix in tight ends and/or running backs. But you get the point, the passing game is struggling mightily and it doesn’t help that none of these wide receivers can crack the top 75 in the league after five games.
But really, it shouldn’t come as huge surprise. Going back over the years, Beasley did have the 75-catch season that led the team in 2016, but other than that, he’s never been in the top two in any of the categories for his career.
Allen Hurns had been second for the Jaguars on two occasions, but in the last two seasons he had fallen off dramatically. Tavon Austin led his Rams in yards and catches one year, but like Hurns, dipped in his production.
Brice Butler and Deonte Thompson had never been in the top two receiving on their teams and, of course, Michael Gallup is a rookie.
You just don’t have receivers who have consistently been a No. 2 receiver, much less a No. 1.
None of this should be a big surprise. Even with Ezekiel Elliott leading the NFL in rushing, getting consistency in the passing game has been a huge challenge.
Yes, this team could use a No. 1 receiver. But throw in a No. 2 as well.