If the Dallas Cowboys offense was missing one thing last season (aside from decent o-line play) it was speed. For as talented as the Cowboys were at running back, tight end, and wide receiver, they were lacking in overall team speed and defenses feasted on that.
So what did the Dallas Cowboys do this offseason to combat such deficiency? They traded away their fastest and most significant weapon, Amari Cooper. But let’s not rehash the logic behind such a move, let’s focus on the situation at hand and how they not only have to replace Cooper’s speed, but upgrade it.
Not long ago the Dallas Cowboys found themselves in a similar situation. In 2018 the Dallas Cowboys tried a thing called, “wide receiver by committee”, perhaps you’ve heard of it? Well, it was clear from the start the committee of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Terrence Williams was missing speed so the Cowboys traded for burner-extraordinaire, Tavon Austin, the last day the draft – and the rest is history.
Speed alone won’t help the Dallas Cowboys offense, they need a player and system that can utilize that speed
Blessed with 4.34 speed and the ability to turn on a dime, Tavon was a top-10 draft pick back in 2013. That raw ability never translated to sustained NFL success so five years later he was sent to Dallas after the Cowboys failed to fill their speed deficiency early in the draft.
Williams, Gallup, Hurns, and Beasley were fine talents in their own rights, but they weren’t exactly speed demons, and the Cowboys knew without a threat to stretch the defense, coverages would sit on their receivers (something the Dallas Cowboys just recently dealt with late last season)
The lesson Tavon Austin taught us is that speed alone does not kill. You need a player that can use that speed and an offensive system that can highlight that speed.
Hoping to avoid a repeat of 2018 and late 2021, the Dallas Cowboys once again have WR speed as a top need on their to-do list this draft cycle. If they don’t fill that need they can expect more of the same issues that plagued them in 2021; defenses played max-coverage using 2-3 players over the top to cage in and contain an otherwise impressive attack.
But the lesson Tavon Austin taught us is that speed alone does not kill. You need a player that can use that speed and an offensive system that can highlight that speed. If you remember the now-hilarious statement by Stephen “coupon clippin” Jones, the Dallas Cowboys planned to get 12-24 TOUCHES per game from their newly created “web back.”
How much did Tavon get the ball that season? Try 14 offensive touches…FOR THE YEAR.
Speed alone doesn’t matter if the player can’t find a way to be useful or if the Dallas Cowboys don’t know how to use it. It’s why reaching in the 2022 NFL Draft for a speed player, when a better all-around WR might be available, is a mistake. It’s why picking up a free agent burner like say…Will Fuller… is the best way to address the speed issue and why the draft isn’t a time to target anything overly specific or specialized.
I say this as a I enter countless mock draft debates and instinctually hide from any WR not offering sub-4.50 speed. I may be shooting myself in the foot because we have no reason to think the Dallas Cowboys know how to utilize that speed in a useful or creative way.
Amari Cooper, the only 2021 starter with sub 4.50 speed, wasn’t a burner, but he was bona fide fast and the best field stretcher the Dallas Cowboys had. His absence in 2022 makes a Cowboys weakness a legitimate concern heading into the 2022 season. Dallas needs to address this but can’t let that influence them to reach in the draft.
- Published on 04/11/2022 at 12:47 PM
- Last updated at 04/11/2022 at 12:47 PM