The Dallas Cowboys wide receivers have had many opportunities to shine through the first three games of the season. Where are the targets going?
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys were the second best rushing offense in the NFL. Despite this fact, their receiver corps still gets a lot of media and fan attention. Some of which is simply a result of the club’s popularity as America’s Team.
Make no mistake. The Cowboys receivers are ultra-talented and deserve all the acclaim and the respect they see from opposing defenses. But being a run-first team obviously has it’s drawbacks for this positional group.
Whereas pass heavy teams like the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons have inflated receiver numbers (by necessity), Dallas is a bit more judicious about how they distribute the ball.
And with the Cowboys opting to carry six receivers on their active roster rather than their normal five this season, the line at the pass buffet just got that much longer. Yet, the pecking order seems to be intact in Dallas when it comes to ball distribution among their wide outs.
Through three games, Dez Bryant leads all players in targets with 27. The Cowboys unquestioned number one receiver has only caught 11 of those targets though, also posting 114 yards and two scores.
Tight end Jason Witten is second on the team, with 26 targets. The wily veteran has 18 receptions for 159 yards and two scores through three games.
Number two wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in third on the targets list, racking up 13 catches on 16 passes his way for 132 yards. T-Will is clearly making the most of his opportunities.
Fourth on the target list is running back Ezekiel Elliott. An underutilized threat out of the backfield, Zeke has been targeted 14 times, converting 12 of those passes into catches for 64 yards.
Surprisingly, Cole Beasley has slid to fifth on this list. The diminutive receiver led the team in receptions last season with 75 catches off of a career-high 98 targets. So far this season, Beasley has only been targeted 14 times, recording eight receptions for 69 yards.
Rounding out the rest of the receiver corps is Brice Butler. He’s been targeted only seven times, catching four passes. But he also has an incredible 34.5 yards per catch average, cementing himself as the Cowboys’ top deep threat.
Sitting at the very bottom of the targets chart are Dallas’ two rookie receivers. Seventh round selection Noah Brown recorded his first target and reception against the Arizona Cardinals Monday night for 13 yards.
And fourth round selection Ryan Switzer, who is primarily a punt returner and gimmick player, has yet to be targeted through the air in his first three games. But he has surprisingly rushed the ball once.
Although I’d love to see a player like Cole Beasley being targeted a bit more, there are a lot of mouths to feed on this offense. And I’m sure we’ll see a several of the Dallas Cowboys receivers rise and fall in targets as the season progresses and opposing defenses provide more opportunities for some over others.