Thursday, April 10, 2014
Cowboys have best receivers in NFC East
By Calvin Watkins
DeSean Jackson joining Pierre Garcon in Washington brings up this question: Which team has the best receiver combination in the NFC East?
Jackson and Garcon are clearly a potent duo to deal with twice a year within the division. But don't forget about the Dallas Cowboys.
Against division opponents, Dez Bryant had three games with more than seven catches -- including eight for 110 yards game against the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Terrance Williams, as a rookie, had a four-game stretch with at least one receiving touchdown and his speed makes him a big-play threat.
The leaders in the division are Bryant and Jackson. In 21 career games against the NFC East, Bryant has 12 touchdowns and 1,577 yards. In comparison, Jackson has 10 touchdowns and 2,077 yards in 32 games.
But last year the Cowboys defense limited Jackson to just six catches and zero touchdowns. Bryant had 209 combined yards on 16 catches and a score against the Eagles last season.
Maybe things will change against DeAngelo Hall and the Washington Redskins in 2014, considering he snagged nine passes in two games. But you have to like the upside the Cowboys receivers will provide new play caller Scott Linehan in 2014.
This isn't anything against the receivers left in Philadelphia, but Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin aren't as scary when you compare them to what the Cowboys and Redskins have. Victor Cruz is still a dangerous receiver for the New York Giants and he's got the emerging talent in Rueben Randle alongside him.
I'd take what Washington and Dallas have in terms of beating defenses on a consistent basis.
Cowboys officials have said this offseason there's no fear in leaving Williams next to Bryant on the first-team offense. Quarterback Tony Romo didn't have any hesitation in targeting Williams inside the red zone last year. Before the season began, the Cowboys figured defenses would take out Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, leaving Williams to beat defenses on deep passes. Williams had touchdown passes of 82 and 60 yards last season in addition to nine pass plays of 25 or more yards.
Romo has never been a quarterback to target just one receiver for an entire game, so that means a player such as Williams can thrive in this offense under Linehan.
In Washington you can't expect new coach Jay Gruden to get Jackson back to his career-high numbers of 82 catches and 1,332 yards he had with Chip Kelly and the Eagles last season.
Bryant and Williams are an emerging force that's going to be difficult to stop on a consistent basis within the division.
Which group of receivers do you like within the NFC East?