Dallas Cowboys: Huge opportunity for Ryan Switzer this week

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 14: Ryan Switzer /

If Ryan Switzer wants to make an impact with the Dallas Cowboys this season, there’s no better opportunity than right now

It was only a few months ago Ryan Switzer joined the Dallas Cowboys as a fourth round draft pick. A complete surprise to many draftniks, Switzer immediately sparked excitement across Cowboys Nation.

The best returner in college football promised to upgrade Dallas’ pedestrian kick/punt return unit and possibly offer competition to Cole Beasley in the not-too-distant future. Injuries delayed his impact early but the excitement held true. Not until the season started did the expectations begin to dissipate.


Ryan Switzer hasn’t been the impact player many of us expected. With only eight kick returns  in seven games, teams are clearly avoiding the former Tar Heel. Yet, his kick return average of 21.1 and punt return average of 7.3 do little to excite Cowboys Nation these days. But circumstances have suddenly changed and opportunities have presented themselves.

The Dallas Cowboys may have just lost two cornerstone players this week. Ezekiel Elliott, last season’s NFL rushing champ, is finally serving that inevitable six game suspension. Cole Beasley, last season’s receptions leader, is questionable as he navigates the NFL’s concussion protocol. The table is set for an aspiring offensive player to breakthrough.

As such, if Ryan Switzer wants make an impact this season, the time to do so is right now.

In the slot

Don’t underestimate the impact a slot receiver can make on this Dallas Cowboys offense. Beasley, or “Bease”, may only have 18 receptions to his name, but his reduced role this season is a product of defensive scheming rather than a regression of play.

Last season, Bease caught the NFL by surprise. He not only became one of Dak Prescott’s favorite receivers, but he became one of his most reliable. His success proves a slot receiver in Jason Garrett’s offense can not only tangibly contribute, but even dominate.

Granted, things changed this season. Uncoverable in single man defense, Bease commands double-teams. He’s collected more doubles than anyone not named Dez. And even there it seems close.

If Bease is unable to play this week, those doubles will end in the slot. This will provide the lightening quick Ryan Switzer, ample opportunity to not only meet Beasley’s play this season, but exceed it.

In the running game

When Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension was first announced, I offered a solution to the running game’s problems. Never a big believer of Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden, I preferred to out-scheme opponents sans Zeke.

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The 01-personnel package offered that opportunity. The “01” refers to the number of running backs and tight ends. From there we can determine the number of receivers. In an “01” group, the offense trots out one tight end and zero running backs.

This was logical (although outside of the box) because it involves both Bease and Switzer, while keeping the incomparable Jason Witten on the field. That’s why I completely denounce the “10” personnel group that so many wanted to jump to when Switzer was first draft. Because, let’s be honest with ourselves, Wit isn’t coming off the field.

But with Beasley likely out, the Cowboys don’t need to use two obvious slot receivers in order to signal an empty set.

The Unstoppable Offense

Picture the Dallas Cowboys doing this on Sunday: In the huddle are the usual suspects, five linemen, Dak Prescott, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant. Joining them will be Ryan Switzer, Terrance Williams, Brice Butler. This signals an empty set since no running backs are on the field.

The defense will adjust accordingly, likely going to nickel or even dime defense. This would prepare them for the pass but leave them exposed for the run. If they do as expected, the Cowboys could motion the diminutive (but stocky) Switzer to the backfield and use him as a runner against a spread-out  defense lacking in linebackers.

If the defense adjusts and swaps defensive backs for linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys can just leave Switzer in the slot as a receiver. In that case, either Switzer or Witten would be matched up against a linebacker, giving Dallas the mismatch once again.

Related Story: How Noah Brown could play two positions for the Cowboys

Want to add another wrinkle? Try adding Noah Brown to the mix in place of either Butler or Williams. As the best WR run-blocker in the NFL, Brown could spread out or move inside as a second blocking tight end.

Next: How Ryan Switzer can help replace Zeke and the running game

Time is now

The time is now for Ryan Switzer to break out for the Dallas Cowboys. With Zeke out and Cole Beasley likely out as well, the opportunities have never been better.