The Dallas Cowboys officially put wide receiver Michael Gallup on injured reserve Monday, which means he will be sidelined for at least the next three weeks.
Gallup was third on the team in targets (7) Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so the question remains now who will replace his production?
Cedrick Wilson will become the third receiver on the depth chart this Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Wilson caught three balls on three targets for 24 yards Thursday and even had a game last year where he went for 71 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions.
But who replaces the production is your Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott. It’s apparent head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t too interested in running the ball 30 times a game just because Elliott is in the backfield.
But neither McCarthy or offensive coordinator Kellen Moore should shy away from getting Elliott involved in the passing game. As much praise as Gallup got for being a consistent option outside of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, he only finished with seven more receptions than Elliott in 2020.
Added to the fact, Elliott had a reception percentage of 73% when thrown to. Yes, Thursday marked the 10th consecutive game Elliott hadn’t cracked 100 yards rushing, but his days of being the Cowboys’ workhorse back is done.
And, it should be.
Relative to his pass-happy approach in Dallas’ Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, Moore explained that “yards are yards” whether they come by air or by ground — and “I really don’t care” so long as the game plan suits the opponent.
“We threw ball that traveled a foot to [running back] Tony [Pollard] that went for eight yards, but it was a pass,” Moore said Monday, per David Helman of the official team website. “Yards are yards, whether they’re run or pass. I think we get a little bit hung up on the categories that they go into. We want to attack people in a balanced way. Now, that may be utilizing all our different personnel we’ve talked about, making sure all those guys get touches and spread defenses horizontally so we can attack them. We want to have diversity in our approach. But if it’s a lot of runs, a lot of passes, I don’t really care.”
That mentality is what will continue to elevate this offense to an elite unit. Under the former regime, there seemed to be a definitive number of carries they wanted both Elliott and Tony Pollard to get per game. No matter the look, they believed their offensive line was built to move people.
Thursday, we saw the Cowboys offense take advantage of whatever look Tampa Bay gave them. Yards are yards. Screens or check downs to the flat are extensions of the traditional run game.
And with spread offenses becoming the norm around the league, it would be a disservice to Elliott and the surrounding offensive weapons to remain traditional in their offensive approach.
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