FRISCO, Texas — There is no shortage of blame being tossed at the Cowboys offense for an offensive outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 that can only be described as just that: offensive.
The failures on that side of the team's equation (the defense mostly shined, especially in pass defense against Tom Brady) were accountable to many, but especially a young receiving corps led by CeeDee Lamb. The 2022 regular season opener was supposed to serve as a coronation ceremony for Lamb in his ascension to WR1 in the post-Amari Cooper era, also currently without Michael Gallup, but it was anything but.
He finished with two catches for 29 yards and no touchdowns on 11 targets. To be fair, only tight end Dalton Schultz truly showed consistency in the passing game, but Lamb is truly finding out the hard way what comes with being "the guy" at wide receiver.
Heavy lies the crown.
"I think we've certainly got to step up and do better," Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones said candidly to 105.3FM the Fan on Monday following the 19-3 loss. "The passing game goes hand-in-hand - the quarterback and the receivers. Certainly, we've got to be better there. CeeDee [Lamb] has got to improve and work his way into being the No. 1 receiver we think he can."
There's little question Lamb will find a way to bounce back, but the degree of difficult increases exponentially with the loss of two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott to a thumb injury that will sideline him for the next several games and, to be frank, Lamb and Prescott weren't exactly on the same page in the opener anyway.
A combination of some inaccurate throws by Prescott and drops by Lamb made for a rough night in Dallas, and the struggles continued down the WR depth chart to Noah Brown (who did buoy his numbers in the fourth quarter), Simi Fehoko and undrafted rookie Dennis Houston.
For while Houston began the game with two catches in his first two targets, he couldn't get on the same page with Prescott to reel in any of his other targets and miscommunications between Brown and Prescott eventually led to the latter speaking to the former on the sideline to try and get a handle on things (though that mission was never accomplished).
In all, the Cowboys could muster only 173 passing yards on 3.8 yards per completion, and that simply won't do. It wasn't all bad (it rarely is), but it was definitely bad enough to rank as one of the worst offensive displays in team history.
Gallup, a former 1,000-yard receiver who has inched very near his return to the field from a torn ACL suffered in 2021, should help tremendously, though. It's unclear if Gallup will take the field in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it sounds like he's not far from making his 2022 debut.
"Obviously, you got a guy like Michael Gallup who is going to be coming sooner than later," Jones added. "There were flashes at times. Noah [Brown] did some good stuff out there and [Dennis] Houston did as well. But certainly [Dalton] Schultz was steady and consistent in terms of the plays he was making.
"[But] it wasn't good enough and we got to - you hold Tampa Bay and Tom Brady to 19 points, you got to think you got a good chance to win the game, but you got to get the job done."