A year has gone by, but not much has changed. Just like last year, Dallas sits at 2-1 and will likely head into the next month without its quarterback or star receiver.
It’s frustrating, as two of the team’s top five players will again miss a good chunk of the season. But as Dallas well knows, the rest of the league won’t feel bad for it. Just ask Minnesota or San Diego after they’ve been dealt some brutal hands so far this year.
Good teams adjust and keep winning, while others let injuries become an excuse (even if they are devastating). If the Cowboys want to avoid the same fate they had last year after their stars went down, they need to find ways to convert through the air — specifically on third down — as well as convert in the red zone.
Enter Cole Beasley.
Beasley played in all 16 games in 2015, but never could establish a connection with Matt Cassell nor Brandon Weeden. However, he has a much better connection with Dak Prescott so far.
Today, we are going to look at how Dallas has been scheming Beasley open to see if that can continue in the upcoming weeks without Dez Bryant.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen teams try to use outside technique to try to force Beasley in to the middle of the field. Opposing teams would rather make Prescott try to throw through small windows in the middle of the field, where it’s more congested, rather than outside of the numbers. In theory, that works.
If the Cowboys are running the ball effectively, teams hate coming out of their base defense — even if that means Dallas has three receivers on the field. They would rather take the chance that Dallas misses a throw, rather than be gashed on the ground.
Not a common occurance, but it does happen. And when it does, Prescott and Beasley need to make teams pay for the free yardage. They won’t be able to afford any drops or poorly thrown balls because they won’t have a ton of advantages without Bryant on the field.
Let’s take a look at something the Cowboys can do if teams are pressing Beasley at the line of scrimmage or if they are bracketing him in the middle of the field. Twice last week, we saw Dallas use Jason Witten to “rub” Beasley’s defender to create space.
We should see even more rub routes from Dallas to try to free up Beasley, as he’s their best receiver after the catch. But beside rub routes, don’t be surprised if you see more combination routes between Beasley and the X receiver to challenge defenses. This doesn’t happen very often, but when Dallas lined up Bryant and Beasley on the same side of the field, teams were forced to play off-coverage.
Beasley is a secondary piece to the Cowboys’ offense, not a focal point. When Bryant is in the game and the team is running the ball effectively, Beasley is nearly unstoppable.
However, he’s going to need to step up in the absence of Bryant for the next few weeks. It’s going to be a struggle and Dallas’ offense won’t have the same firepower, but it just needs to get the job done, no matter how it looks. We are going to see a much different version of the Cowboys’ offense compared to the one that we thought we would see back in August with Romo and Bryant. But with the luck the Cowboys’ have had in the past few years, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
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