Dallas Cowboys: Why Cole Beasley isn’t wrong about front office influence

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Cole Beasley #11 of the Dallas Cowboys slaps hands with fans after a 40-7 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Cole Beasley #11 of the Dallas Cowboys slaps hands with fans after a 40-7 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys wideout Cole Beasley recently made a comment about the team’s front office influence on receiver targets. Here’s why he isn’t wrong.

The 2018 season certainly didn’t end the way the Dallas Cowboys wanted it to. But this was a 3-5 team that rebounded to win the NFC East title and posted their first playoff victory since 2014. Much of the team’s turnaround is being credited for the front office’s bold midseason trade for former Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper.

Before Cooper’s arrival in Dallas, the Cowboys offense was averaging just 20.0 points per contest. After Amari’s arrival, the offense averaged just 22.1 points per game. Based on the numbers, Cooper’s presence increased the offensive scoring production by just +2.1 points per contest.

When you consider the fact the Cowboys’ best offense performance, a 40-7 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars, came before the Cooper trade and their worst performance, a 23-0 shutout by the Indianapolis Colts, came after; it makes you question just how impactful the trade really was.

Yet, clearly something changed. Dallas won eight of their 11 games after Cooper’s arrival. But it could be argued the Cowboys were simply playing better team football. And while Amari’s presence certainly gave opposing defensive coordinators more to plan for, it didn’t translate much to the scoreboard.

The presence of Cooper clearly had a big impact on the Cowboys receiver corps. Especially when it came to the usage of veteran slot receiver Cole Beasley.

This offseason, new wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal was excited about expanding the route tree for the 5-foot-8 Beasley, allowing the talented wideout to work outside of the slot position and become a more overall threat in the passing game. There were times in training camp were Beasley and the similarly sized Tavon Austin were playing as the two outside receivers in the offense.

Through the first seven games of the season, Beasley was targeted 43 times. He recorded 33 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns during that stretch. Following the trade for Cooper, Beasley’s average targets dropped from 6.1 per contest to just 4.5 through the team’s final 11 games.

Despite the drop in opportunities, Beasley still led all Cowboy receivers in targets and catches in 2018. He posted 65 catches for 672 yards and three scores, the second highest reception total of his seven-year career. But the trade for Cooper and the emergence of rookie wideout Michael Gallup surely hurt the 29-year old’s production in the midst of a contract year.

Scheduled to be a free agent come March, Beasley recently took to Twitter with an observation about how the Cowboys’ front office influences receiver targets.

Do we believe that Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones or executive vice president Stephen Jones are dictating targets on a weekly basis in Dallas? No. But the fact is they do have an influence on the gameplan through their personnel moves … and likely beyond.

The trade for Cooper and selection of Gallup as a third rounder sent clear messages to the Cowboys’ coaching staff last season. And as the Amazon series All or Nothing documented several times in Season Three, both Joneses meet often with the entire coaching staff during the season to discuss players and their performance. It’s not a huge stretch to believe they express their opinions about getting certain players more involved than others.

Based on his declining targets alone, Beasley has every right to think he wasn’t in the Cowboys’ plans much through the second half of last season. Heading into free agency, that fact will likely be the reason the talented slot receiver opts to play elsewhere in 2019.

Beasley went on to clarify his earlier statement in a recent tweet …

The Dallas Cowboys should not see Cole Beasley’s recent statements as a slight. It is a fact. Through their moves, the trade for Amari Cooper and the drafting of Michael Gallup, they had an influence on the gameplan and how it was shaped. And based on the evidence, Beasley found himself with a decreasing role in the Cowboys’ plans as the season progressed.

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The takeaway for all involved is that good players want to ball. Especially receivers. And Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the NFL. He clearly wants to be treated as such when it comes to targets. If the Cowboys refuse to do so, there are plenty of other teams who will.