Jan 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin (19) prior to game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Laurent Robinson Better Than Miles Austin?

Let me start with a quote from always hilarious Vice President Joe Biden: ”If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30% chance we’re going to get it wrong.”   Old Joe might be on to something. I planned to make the case for Laurent Robinson being the starter with Dez Bryant coming into the game as the third receiver in 2011.  I thought with absolute certainty that I was right, but I was wrong.

I was certain that issues with Dez not being where Tony Romo expected him to be would be reflected in the statistics and create a strong argument to support my opinion.  However, during the process of building my case, statistics got in the way and instead created a case for Miles Austin to be that third receiver.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Austin as a receiver.  His breakout game against the Kansas City Chiefs was one for the record books and he was always a consistent performer once he became a starter.

But we are talking about 2011, the year with no OTA’s and limited training camp.  Austin was hindered all year it seems by hamstring strains.  Timing between Tony and him never seemed right.

This was likely due to lack of conditioning that the lockout contributed to.  He played in ten games as a starting receiver but, once Robinson emerged as Romo’s go-to guy, should have been re-positioned as the third receiver.

I will try to state my case without loading you down with statistics, because I have to tell you, when I go to the team’s official website and see that column about once a week called “RTN (Running The Numbers)”, I just skip over it because reading it puts me in a coma.

And while we are the subject, I am glad to have a voice at this site, one where I can gather evidence, come to a conclusion and share it with you.  It’s not like you are ever going to see the headline: Cowboys’ Coaches Say “Man, We Should Have Started Robinson Instead of Austin”.

Nov 24, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Laurent Robinson (81) catches a fourth quarter touchdown pass against the Miami Dolphins on Thanksgiving day at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Dolphins 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

But they should have, and this is why.  Robinson caught a higher percentage of passes when targeted than Austin (67% vs. 59%) and had more average yards per catch (15.9 vs. 13.5).  So, if Robinson were targeted as many times as Austin in the ten games he participated in, and the stats shown above stayed roughly the same, the Cowboys would have produced 200 more yards of offense last season.

That extra 200 yards would have likely helped to produce more touchdowns.  As close as some of the games were, this could have meant another win or two.  Oh, but wasn’t Robinson successful because teams didn’t double cover him as much as Austin?  I doubt it.  How long does it take a team to adjust their coverage to a receiver that is making play after play?  Not long at all.

And, since many of the times Robinson was on the field was a must-pass situation, there would have been more defensive backs on the field as well, allowing for more double coverage.

So, why didn’t the Cowboys see this and make the move I am suggesting they should have?  The only reason that comes to mind is they did not want to get into Austin’s head and affect his play in the future, by handing him a demotion.  Wait, wasn’t it Austin’s fat contract that caused the issue with the salary cap for this year and next?  I guess they feel like the higher paid player needs to start.  But the best players should always be on the field, don’t you think?

While we are on the subject of Robinson, I was disappointed the Cowboys allowed him to move on.  How will he do?  I don’t know.  We have seen other good receivers move on and accomplish less with their new team.  What he accomplished in Dallas certainly had a lot to do with the connection he and Romo developed early on.

That being said, I do understand the financial impact.  With Austin healthy and Dez expected to come into his own this year, Robinson would definitely have been the third receiver.  What Jacksonville was willing to pay was just too much for us to retain him in that role.

However, I don’t think we will replace what we lost with one of the inexperienced guys currently on the roster.  

I hope I am pleasantly surprised with the play of these inexperienced guys when the preseason games begin.  I have read opinions that losing Robinson isn’t a big deal because Tony can throw it to Austin, Bryant, Jason Witten, or the running backs.  Well they had all of those options last year too and it was still Robinson making the key play.

Will the Cowboys add an experienced receiver, or roll with what they have?  Stay tuned.

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Tags: Dez Bryant Jason Witten Kansas City Chiefs Laurent Robinson Miles Austin Tony Romo

  • californy

    I usually like talking real football, not fantasy. But I also discuss this topic before a draft with my fiend. In general Laurant Robinson is a better player and this is why. Lauarant is a more healthy player and doesnt miss the game MIles miss during the year. You will not get a 16 game season from Austin Miles and that where the differnce is at. A healthy Miles Austin is a better player, but we havent had Miles Austin Healthy since his contract year. I spoke of trading Miles this off season to either the Rams or any team that would give me a first round to 35 th pick in the NFL draft. The conversation of the Ram and Brown came up, The Ram selected their WR at Pick 33 and the 49 ers chose their at pick 29. So the possibility where there for it to happen. The ram selected a 6-5 WR Brian Quick from Appalachian State with 4.5 speed, who Ray Sherman compaired to the Next TO. The 49 pick a WR from Illinoise with their pick he is 6-0 4.31 Speed WR who had 1400 yards in his sebior year in college.
    Part of the reason to trade MIles was his contract, with Jordy nelson making 4.95 million a year and getting 1400 yards last season, I though this contract was more appropriated to your top WR. I would of traded Dez the following year once we knew we had MIles replacement already on board. At some point in time this team must have better contract that are more a reflection of what this team can afford. If Dez become this year number 1 receiver, we could have 2 WR making 8.54 million in 2013 each, that would represent 14 percent of the budget for two player playing the same spot. Those number are not good for a team looking for a right balance and improved talent for a super bowl run.

    • ctcowboy1968

      I think you should go back and review Laurent’s first years in the league my friend. He was unproductive because he could not get on the field due to injuries. In 2008 and 2009, he only played in 9 games total. One good year does not make a consistent career.

  • Krazy Cowboy

    T.O. Seattle =Golden Tate in Dallas?

    • ctcowboy1968

      I liked Golden at Notre Dame. He hasn’t performed on the pro level. I would rather have Doug Baldwin from Seattle. Baldwin has excellent YAC..

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dboyz62 David Perez

    The Cowboys brass let Laurent walk. There’s your answer.

    • ctcowboy1968

      $6+ million per year is why he walked. Boys brass openly admitted that they wanted to keep him. That price tag was to steep.

  • Eric

    I know we want to start

  • Eric

    Now the defense should have shifted its coverage to stop Laurent Robinson, but it didn’t necessarily do that. If a defense would have put double coverage on Laurent and not Miles, you could have a huge mismatch. Most corners in this league couldn’t handle Miles 1-on-1. They’ll end up getting burned because he is so quick and crafty. Now, maybe Laurent did get more double coverage, and as you said got the ball more. This might also be a timing thing. With Miles being out, he lost that connection w/ Romo, and Laurent’s got much better. Why else would he be the redzone king? Now, with Laurent being in Jacksonville, I do think Dez should be getting more jump balls in the back of the endzone. He has phenominal jumping ability and can grab the ball at it’s highest point. Anyways though, @b26ae1ebec6c852541dbeb2eb2e563d6:disqus, no one would take on Miles Austin’s contract for a first round pick. You’re getting a player that has about the same skill, but costs you 3 times more. And Dallas doesn’t just want to take any 2nd or 3rd rounder for a high caliber wideout. Laurent got what he wanted. He’s a #1 (or 2, depending on Justin Blackmon) WR in Jacksonville with what could be a young, up and coming QB.

  • ctcowboy1968

    A healthy Miles is a dominant player that can’t be handled 1 on 1. He is a game breaker. Certainly a top 10 WR. Worth $9 million? Doubtful. That’s JJ’s fault.
    Laurent took the $$ and ran. Good luck with the worst O in the league. An awful QB.