Dallas Cowboys: The pressure is on CeeDee Lamb to be WR1

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys offseason has been full of surprises. We saw them trade four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns for a pair of late round picks. They released one of their best offensive linemen in La’el Collins for nothing in return. And they watched Randy Gregory flip to the Denver Broncos at the last minute because of contract language.

Each aforementioned player was not only a starter at their respective position, but were clearly one of the best at their positions on the team. As a result, their voids set the Cowboys back – BIG TIME

Even with the signings of standout safety Jayron Kearse and wide receiver James Washington, the Dallas Cowboys still need answers for Collins’s replacement and are hoping CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup can make up for the lost production of Coop.

When it comes to the Cowboys receivers, it’s the former and not the latter that is expecting to take the big leap as the Cowboys primary receiver. So basically, the pressure is on CeeDee Lamb to be the Cowboys WR1.

With Amari Cooper gone, the pressure is on CeeDee Lamb to be the Dallas Cowboys WR1

During the 2020 draft, the Cowboys lucked up when Lamb, viewed as a top-10 pick, fell into their laps with the 17th overall pick. Nobody saw it coming and the Cowboys did the wise thing and drafted Lamb. Instantly, Dallas became one of the most feared passing attacks in the NFL

The former Oklahoma Sooner didn’t disappoint in his rookie campaign as he caught 74 passes for 935 yards, 5 touchdowns, and averaged 12.6 yards a reception. Lamb missed the 1,000-yard mark by 65 yards while catching passes from three different quarterbacks that season.

Lamb followed up his sophomore campaign with an impressive 1,102 yards on 79 receptions and averaged 13.9 yards a reception with six touchdowns to boot. Lamb’s spectacular season earned the rising star his first Pro Bowl bid.

For the first time in his young NFL career, Lamb will have to find a way to beat double coverage on a weekly basis, carry the load, and perform when the pressure is on

In his own right, Lamb is a really good receiver that is only going to get better, but Lamb’s 2,037 career receiving yards, 153 receptions and 11 touchdowns over two seasons had a lot to do with Coop being doubled-covered (Gallup’s presence helped too). In other words, Coop’s ability to draw double teams made it easier for Lamb to wreak havoc on man coverage and gain WR1 status.

As I stated above, Lamb is a really good receiver in that he’s very athletic, good route runner, makes acrobatic catches, good for YAC (Yards After Catch) and return punts for good measure. But this upcoming season he’ll be the main attraction in Dallas’ passing attack as Gallup recovers from a torn ACL and the newcomers find their respective roles in a new offense.

For the first time in his young NFL career, Lamb will have to find a way to beat double coverage on a weekly basis, carry the load, and basically be Dak Prescott’s trusted weapon when the pressure is on

Even if a speedster like Washington can take the top off the secondary, the pressure will still be on Lamb to deliver because he’s the “go to” man now. So, all of those drops Lamb had last season needs to disappear like an old man’s hairline.

Because Gallup’s timeframe to come back is unclear, Lamb is expected to do the heavy lifting with a supporting cast that has more question marks than Stephen Jones’ decision making.

Lamb is crucial to Dallas being an explosive offense because it relies more on its passing game than its running game, and if the passing game stalls, then this team is in so much trouble.

See, in order to be a true WR1 Lamb will have to win the respect of opposing defenses by being a consistent scoring threat on a regular basis. Being a consistent threat means beating double coverage on a regular basis, too. When that happens, defenses will either bracket Lamb or straight up use a double team, which allows Dallas ‘other receivers and the offense as a whole to flourish.

Even when Gallup returns, the pressure will still be on Lamb to perform at a high level because quite frankly, the front office paid Gallup as high end WR2 and doesn’t view him as WR1 yet. Simply put, this team is expecting Lamb to pick up Coop’s production, not Gallup.

Gallup is good but has an injury history to consider.

In conclusion,

Going into year three, I expect Lamb to supersede expectations because he’s talented, has gotten better each year, and will have another full offseason building a rapport with Dak. This learning curve is important for Lamb because last season the two were not on the same page on several occasions that resulted in negative plays. Imagine Lamb’s greatness once he corrects this issue.

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Lamb’s upside is scary because he can play any wide receiver position, and Lamb’s route running is a major plus that he excels at playing in the slot. If Kellen Moore wants to regain the “boy genius” title again and receive his first head coaching job, he better use Lamb in the slot more because that’s where Dallas’ offense will be problematic for defenses.

In the meantime, Lamb needs to watch Coop’s game film from the 2018 season and see how Coop single-handedly propelled the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East crown and a first-round playoff victory. Because that’s what a true WR1 does! Now that’s pressure!