The Cowboys are only two years removed from a 13-win season, but as far as the Dallas offense is concerned, this team’s playmaking is light years away from 2016’s high point. Through Week 5, Jerry Jones’ team ranks 30th in the league in scoring and 28th in offensive yardage, and wide receiver Allen Hurns has a theory about what’s wrong:
It’s the playcalling.
Josina Anderson made an appearance on ESPN’s NFL Live and relayed Hurns’ comments from an upcoming interview with the veteran pass catcher. According to Anderson, the former Jacksonville Jaguar — a man who didn’t make any waves while spending the first four years of his NFL career watching Blake Bortles alternate between under- and over-throws in Florida — is frustrated with the blame he and his fellow receivers are taking for the Cowboys’ struggles. And he’s got specific examples to back up his claim that Dallas’s 2-3 record isn’t on the team’s receiving corps.
Here’s what Anderson said Hurns told her in an interview that will go live later in the week.
This is bad. Very bad. pic.twitter.com/9gUu9cwmnE— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 10, 2018
‘Sometimes Dak is making the reads, sometimes he’s not. Sometimes the blocking is there, sometimes it’s not.’ And he said ‘sometimes, Jo, it is the playcalling.’ So I said ‘well, give me an example.’ He said on the second interception that Dak made, it was a play to Deonte Thompson on the third corner, he said that coverage, on that particular play, Teddy, was a two-man coverage. That’s typically where the corners are underneath. He said that they [the Cowboys] called a deep curl route which he said, in his estimation on the record ‘that is the worst play call that you would make.’
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett disagreed with that assessment. At a press conference, Garrett said he didn’t think Prescott needed to change the play based on the coverage Houston was showing.
“Certainly, you have some plays that are better against certain defenses,” Garrett said. “That’s a route versus that coverage that is not the most ideal, but you can certainly win on that route. We’ve completed that pass against that coverage in the past.”
Prescott finished that game against the Texans with two interceptions, pushing his total up to four for the season — matching his 16-game total from his rookie year in ‘16. Some of those passes have been into traffic, but all four have caromed off a Cowboy target in one way or another:
All four of Dak Prescott's 2018 interceptions: pic.twitter.com/im8Mj6OLLj— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 9, 2018
It’s not the first time Hurns has been critical of the Cowboys’ offense
He discussed the team’s issues after that primetime loss to Houston, making sure to point out how the team’s wide receivers were finding openings downfield but not getting the ball at crucial moments.
”If you want to go back and watch film, it comes down to on a majority of snaps,” Hurns told reporters, via the Dallas News. “Of course not every snap you’re going to win across the board, but are you creating separation? As far as today, of course we left some plays out there. I’m not saying we’re always perfect, we’re always open. That’s not the case. But I feel like for the majority of the snaps, we’re creating separation. If I’m not open, [Cole Beasley] is open. It rotates. It’s not always where all three receivers are not getting open.”
One day later, he reopened the topic to clarify that his comments weren’t a swipe at quarterback Dak Prescott.
“When me and Cole came out and said receivers are getting separation that wasn’t a shot at any one. We just want to let people know that it’s something that goes on across the board. It’s not just Dak making the throw. Sometimes it’s protection issues. Sometimes it is him giving us an opportunity and we don’t come down with it. That’s the game of football. Everything is not going to be flawless.”
And while he’s being careful not to alienate his overtaxed quarterback, Hurns isn’t especially worried about retaliation from the Dallas coaching staff.
Allen Hurns says he has eight catches, he can't hurt himself anyworse or put himself in a worse situation. He was just being honest about one call.— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) October 10, 2018
Hurns isn’t the only Cowboy WR frustrated with the blame Dallas’ wideouts are getting
Cole Beasley has been with the club since 2012 and was the team’s leading receiver in that 2016 run to the NFC’s top record. He knows what this team can do when it’s running smoothly — and he’s sick of an unheralded group of receivers shouldering the blame for the Cowboys’ underwhelming start.
Look elsewhere if you want to find blame for the Dallas Cowboys offensive struggles.
That’s according to Cole Beasley and the Cowboys receivers, who point to the game tape to show they’re getting open. They’re not pointing the finger at quarterback Dak Prescott, but are clearly not comfortable with taking the blame for the Cowboys’ 435 combined passing yards through three games, which is the second-fewest in the league.
“We’re just getting open. That’s all we can do,” Cole Beasley said. “If you watch the tape, that’s all you’ve got to do. A lot of people aren’t watching the tape. They’re just assuming. That’s fine.”
And some of that criticism is coming from unexpected sources. Team owner Jerry Jones took to a local radio interview to call out his receivers, throwing former All-Pro Dez Bryant under the bus in the process.
“We have a number of receivers, and each one brings something to the table for us” Jones told 105.3’s Shan & RJ Show. When asked about No. 1 receivers, he expanded on the topic. ”That hasn’t been our case here for several years now…not a true number one ... My definition of a #1 receiver, it is Julio Jones, it is DeAndre [Hopkins]. There are not a lot of those guys around the NFL.
”Obviously we need to get better in the passing game.”
That could have been Jones’ public response to Bryant’s continued criticism of his former team. The former first-round pick has been vocal about his complaints about the Cowboys, live-tweeting his way through games earlier in the season and even addressing Jones’ radio show comments after Monday’s defeat went final:
Idk what Jerry meant by that #1 WR but I’m damn for sure would have kept them chains moving...— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) October 8, 2018
Bryant’s also been skeptical of Dallas’s playcalling — a concern that’s shared by a mounting number of Cowboy fans, according to our extremely unscientific study.
Do you approve of the job Scott Linehan is doing as OC?— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 21, 2018
Through five games, the Cowboys rank 30th in the league in passing offense at just 172 yards per game — nearly 60 yards fewer than their breakout 2016 campaign. Their 6.0 yards per pass is good for 29th, ahead of only the Colts, Cardinals, and Bills. That’s a major problem for Dallas and head coach Jason Garrett — and, according to the Cowboys’ wideouts, it’s not one he can lay at the feet of the receiving corps.