SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 01: Michael Crabtree #15 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during practice as quaterback Alex Smith #11 practices during the 49ers Minicamp at their training facilities on May 1, 2009 in Santa Clara, California. Crabtree was the 49ers first round draft pick. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
This was a busy morning for wideouts across the NFL. San Fran first rounder Michael Crabtree finally (finally!) signed with the team after realizing two months too late that reentering the draft would make him both poorer and dumber. And the Jets have traded Chansi Stuckey and other assorted cuts of meat to the Browns in exchange for Braylon Edwards and his nonpareil ball-dropping skills.
Meanwhile, back at Cowboys headquarters, Jason Garrett is frantically drawing up new ways to throw to the ball to Sammy Hurd in tight situations. With any luck, he may be able to design a play where Hurd is serendipitously triple covered! That would be daring!
Obviously, Crabtree and Edwards have nothing to do with the Cowboys fortunes this year, and the Cowboys’ issues go way beyond the wideout position. But you when you look at those two moves this morning, you can’t help but stop and stare at the Cowboys wideout corps for a brief assessment. Throwing to Sam Hurd at the goal line two straight times tends to make fans wistful like that.
After four games, it’s now clear that Roy Williams isn’t going to become Tony Romo’s Michael Irvin. He gets injured too often. He drops balls. And he can barely bother to join the huddle. He’s Alvin Harper. He needs a better receiver opposite him in order to do anything useful. And opposite him are guys like Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, and Hurd, all of whom can make the occasional big play but lack greater consistency. They too make wonderful complimentary receivers.
And therein lies the rub. The Cowboys have nice assorted parts, but they lack that true #1 guy. Williams showed flashes of being that guy in the preseason. But that’s all Williams is. Flashes. He’s not the whole picture. This is still an offense based around throwing the ball to Jason Witten. Witten is a very good player, but I’m quite sure most defensive coordinators are happy to let Witten catch 11 balls a game while the wideouts starve. As a result, the sum of the Cowboys offense is less than its components, and that’s never good sign for an offense.
That problem becomes even more pronounced now as the Niners and Jets, two good teams, have improved their lot at the position while the Cowboys continue to try and patch things together. That’s the takeaway from these moves this morning. They serve as a reminder that the Cowboys inconsistencies at wideout (and, as a result, quarterback) are likely to be a problem all season long. You are now free to sob in your pillow.