With a thrilling amount of talent, the Dallas Cowboys terrific trio of receivers could challenge a rare feat in 2020.
Goals are important. Lofty goals are even better.
The old saying “shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” illustrates the importance of striving to be the best. For the Dallas Cowboys‘ trio of terrific receivers, this is exactly their mindset.
During one of the first interview sessions of the 2020 Dallas Cowboys training camp, receiver Amari Cooper was asked about the addition of rookie CeeDee Lamb. Cooper definitely did not mince any words.
Here’s what Amari told members of the press earlier this month via the Cowboys’ official YouTube page.
“I think it was a great pickup. You have to draft the best player on the board. Everybody understands that. I think he’s a great receiver and I think with me and Michael Gallup going for 1,000 yards last season, I think the expectations is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year.”
Talk about shooting for the moon. That’s a feat that has rarely been accomplished in the history of the game. In fact, it has happened just five times… ever.
The first time was all the way back in 1980 with those fun “Air Coryell” San Diego Chargers’ teams. John Jefferson (1,340), Kellen Winslow (1,290), and Charlie Joiner (1,132) all easily eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. That team won 11 games on their way to a second-round playoff exit.
Speaking of fun, the next group to do it was Washington’s “fun bunch” in 1989. Gary Clark (1,229), Art Monk (1,186), and Ricky Sanders (1,138) all went over the century mark for a team that won ten games but missed the playoffs.
Next up, we have the pre-dirty bird Atlanta Falcons with running back/receiver Eric Metcalf (1,189), Terance Mathis, and Bert Emanuel (both amassing exactly 1,039 yards) just barely pulling off the impressive accomplishment. This squad won nine games, losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Probably the best team to ever pull this off was the 2004 Indianapolis Colts. Led by Reggie Wayne (1,210), Marvin Harrison (1,113), and Brandon Stokley (1,077), all three hit their 1k goal on the way to 12 wins and a second-round playoff exit.
The last team to do it was the surprising 2008 Arizona Cardinals. After missing the playoffs for a decade straight, Larry Fitzgerald (1,431), Anquan Boldin (1,038), and Steve Breaston (1,006) led this squad to the Super Bowl largely in part to their efforts at all putting up big numbers in the passing game.
Can the Dallas Cowboys terrific trio reach their lofty goal and be the sixth team to do so? To be honest, I am skeptical.
To be fair, I have no skepticism when it comes to the talent or ability to pull this off. Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb should be atop everyone’s list of best-receiving trios in the NFL.
Cooper is easily one of the best receivers in all of football. In fact, Cooper is just one of six players to ever post over 350 receptions, 5,000 yards, and 30 touchdowns by the age of 25 in history.
As for Michael Gallup and Lamb, one came into the league with little fanfare and has only gotten better while the other is full of hype that, at least very early on, seems well-deserved. No, the talent is not going to be what keeps them from their goals.
What, if anything, will have them fall short will be one of their teammates. Specifically, running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Of those five receiver groups to all individually go over 1,000 yards, only two had to compete with a better than average running back. In fact, only Atlanta’s Craig Heyward (236 rushes for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns) and the Colts’ Edgerrin James (334-1,548-9) matched the output of their receiving teammates.
The 1980 Chargers had no running back carry the ball more than 150 times or go over 675 yards. Washington’s leading rusher had just one carry more than 200 in 1989 and barely went over 800 yards. The 2008 Cardinals had no running back carry the ball more than 150 times or go over more than 515 yards.
If the 2020 Dallas Cowboys rushing attack looks like those three teams, something went terribly wrong with both Elliott and Tony Pollard. Heyward’s carries and yards is almost a full 60 carries and 270 yards less than Elliott’s four-year average.
Only the year that James had in 2004 would be an acceptable output for Elliott in 2020. As I wrote last week, however, in order for Dallas to duplicate the 2008 Cardinals destiny of a Super Bowl, Elliott will need to be the main offensive focus, not Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb.
While it obviously can be done to have both a highly potent aerial attack complimenting your devastating ground game, it has never equated to the ultimate team goal of a championship.
Elliott, Cooper, and Gallup have all tasted individual success. Lamb will likely have a long career full of impressive numbers but all four have much loftier goals than numbers in 2020. Remember, shooting for the moon still lands you amongst the stars. The stars know that, in this case, six is worth more than 3,000.