Of all of the punishment CeeDee Lamb absorbed one game into the Dallas Cowboys season, probably the most vital hit might have been delivered from contained in the possession suite. Twice, no much less.
Just days after director of participant personnel Stephen Jones made a pointed comment about Lamb’s efficiency within the group’s 19-3 season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owner Jerry Jones doubled down on the criticism. The message? Dallas wants Lamb to reside as much as his ownership-hyped expectations, which framed him as a real No. 1 receiver after the Cowboys pulled the plug on Amari Cooper within the offseason. Lamb catching solely two of 11 passes thrown in his path for 29 yards in opposition to Tampa definitely did not match the invoice — who sits effectively with the mind belief.
“We’ve definitely received to step up and do higher,” Stephen Jones mentioned on Monday, chatting with the group’s flagship radio station 105.3 The Fan. “The passing game goes hand-in-hand, the quarterback and the receivers. Certainly, we have to be higher there. CeeDee has received to enhance and work his approach into being the No. 1 receiver we predict he can [be].”
By Friday, Jerry Jones had seconded that notion with the identical radio station, together with some barely extra biting commentary.
“People are protecting your finest receiver. That occurs,” mentioned Jerry Jones. “What do you do? You’ve received to play by being coated. You’ve received to catch balls coated. … My level is that each group within the league is confronted with the identical factor. They’re going to have their finest receiver double coated. What the very best receiver ought to do is play by that protection.”
For a group that was promoting the concept of Lamb being a transparent improve over Cooper only a few months in the past, it was an eyebrow-raising second of criticism at a remarkably early stage of the season. Especially after possession spent months making it clear how sad it was with Cooper’s mixture of wage, manufacturing and availability final season. Not solely did that trio of things immediate a fireplace sale of an excellent younger participant — dumping Cooper to the Cleveland Browns for a Fifth-round choose — it led to Jerry Jones primarily suggesting Dallas could be higher off in 2022 with Lamb on the high of the depth chart.
That makes the early criticism a bit shocking, provided that few gamers on offense performed significantly effectively and head coach Mike McCarthy is already fielding questions concerning the play calling of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Now the discuss Lamb’s play is more likely to elevate extra second-guessing concerning the Cooper commerce, which has already been a hotly debated situation within the fan base for months.
But the short and demanding transfer in direction of Lamb’s efficiency additionally raises extra problematic questions. Has Dallas seen one thing it does not like about Lamb’s play now that he has labored within the No. 1 wideout position for the previous few months? Is there extra occurring right here than one bad game? And if the solutions to these questions are “no”, then why does not possession really feel like Lamb deserves a one-game mulligan earlier than leaning into criticism about his efficiency?
Whatever the reasoning, Lamb’s play will now be a spotlight transferring ahead, measured in opposition to Cooper’s efficiency in Cleveland — which was good on movie in Week 1 regardless of being undercut by some errors from Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Not to say a brewing comparability in opposition to Michael Gallup, who has additionally been celebrated previously by Cowboys possession as a participant worthy of being thought-about a No. 1 wideout.
Add within the play-calling dynamic of McCarthy and Moore and it is plenty of drama early for the Dallas offense. And none if it is more likely to get higher earlier than the return of star quarterback Dak Prescott and his damaged thumb.