Without even watching a game, it was easy to tell that the Dallas Cowboys had a wide receiver problem this season. After ditching a high paid and beloved star, without any realistic replacement, it was hard to be hopeful about their deep passing game.
With a low volume quarterback and no deep threat to consider, everyone could see how difficult it would be for them to generate big plays, making sure Ezekiel Elliot is dealing with a stacked box on every carry.
So far, there has been development, but that is not saying a lot considering how pathetic they were to open the season on offense. The offensive line is guiding everything, allowing the skill players to get the space and time they need, opening things up in a way that brought in a glimmer of hope for this young core.
Cole Beasley is doing a lot any time he has space. By becoming more than just a reliable third down option, Beasley is getting to the point where defenses will adjust because of him, something the Cowboys desperately need.
Tavon Austin has been explosive on the outside and the inside, whith a knack for catching a defense off gaurd with an easy option for Prescott. Add on Michael Gallup looking like intriguing deep threat and jump ball option and the future of this passing game is no longer the dumpster fire it appeared to be after trading Dez Bryant.
The offensive line is giving Prescott the time he needs, and issues in the trenches will completely break down the passing game, leaving Elliot alone on an island to take over a game that will be out of reach far too quick for any running back to keep up with.
The reality, however, is that the Cowboys may not have even had a solid number two wide receiver before acquiring Cooper, and they certainly do not have the quarterback to make up for it at this point in his career.
The Cowboys knew a change was needed, and the front office decide to go out and take the kind of risk that could make or break them. There is no doubt that Amari Cooper has been a brutal bust since his rookie season.
It also remains true that he has elite talent and he has the potential to offer a lot more than a decent first round pick. Cooper was the top receiving prospect of his class, and the Cowboys may not get another opportunity at that kind of talent on the outside.
Cooper will also allow the wide outs to have more defined roles. Beasley is not at his best when he is attracting the attention of the defense and being asked to do all the dirty work.
Beasley should be a matchup nightmare, and he will flourish in the space that Cooper creates, allowing him to settle into a role that he is comfortable with, while not dealing with an unbearable burden of pressure. Once Cooper settles into his role, then everyone else can fall into place, sticking to what they know can do damage to a defense.
Cooper is then the obvious number one option. How they use him will be uncertain, but he has to be the go to guy. That leaves Austin and Gallup as opposite wild cards. Gallup gives Prescott a chance to hit a jump ball deep shot and Austin can settle into a change of pace role that can drive any defense crazy.
Cooper means the weaker receivers currently on the team do not have to do as much, and focusing on how to have their optimal impact should play a huge role in discovering what this offense can become.
With Cooper, the Cowboys offense has nowhere to hide, particularly the coaching staff. It may be unfair to expect a struggling offense to immediate turn around a player who has struggled for multiple seasons, but that becomes the standard when you trade away a first round pick.
Cooper’s age makes sure that this move is not too shortsighted, but the front office may not give this core a chance to grow together at all if they do not show something special this season. It already felt like the staff was on the verge of an overhaul, and any move that involved trading away a first is all the ammunition a front office needs to move on.
There will always be a great reward that may come after the risk. Having a trio like Prescott, Elliot and Cooper could dominate the league for a generation, and that is why you give up the first round pick, because the upside with that talent behind their offensive line could grow into a generational caliber offense.
The problem is how unfair that standard is. For players that are so young, it will be even more difficult to avoid that pressure playing in Dallas. Everyone in the organization is aware of what happens if this doesn’t work, because failure may be the catalyst in a complete break down and rebuild. People are always ready to doubt the young talent, and the Cowboys will only be patient for so much longer.
It will be a challenge to optimize what he can offer, but the Cowboys are certainly more talented with Cooper. The Cowboys offense was already under a lot of pressure and getting that extra advantage should ease some of their struggles. With more help they can trust, there will be more room and the top talent does not have to think about making up for liabilities.
It will be on the coaching staff to make sure the offense can accommodate Cooper. The running game will stay dominant and Elliot will continue to feast. In the passing game, however, the Cowboys cannot waste anything that Cooper can do.
Without much time, the Cowboys need to know how Prescott can continually go to Cooper as a reliable option, who everyone knows has the potential to blow the top off a defense.
Cooper has been a disappointment, but he was in the most disappointing situation in the NFL. The Raiders were supposed to be the next great young team, and everything has fallen apart, resulting in a total rebuild.
Cooper was not in a good position to succeed with the Raiders, and the Cowboys need to make sure that changes with the new team. With how much the coaching staff was criticized for under utilizing Dez Bryant, it is tough to have full confidence in Cooper’s prospects of turning his career around.
They need immediate results because of what they gave up, but patience is still key. If players start pressing and forcing things to Cooper, they will fail to put him in a position to succeed. Things fall apart when individuals try to be the one that overcompensates, and it is on the coaching staff to make sure Cooper is properly integrated and comfortable with any role he has on the team