The NFC East is a flaming train barreling down tracks that lead straight into a fireworks storage facility defended by plaster walls constructed by a group of three drunk accountants who “watched a YouTube video” on it. But if there is one bright spot in it, it’s the Cowboys passing attack. In Week 3, it was an unlikely hero, former Boise State Broncos product Cedrick Wilson, that darned near saved the day for the Cowboys.
Cedrick Wilson just needed to be healthy to be a factor
A new offense and the passing growth of Dak Prescott don’t hurt either. This young man has had fans dating back to his days at Boise state, including my pal Connor Livesay, who’s been a staunch supporter since watching Wilson thrive at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Wilson didn’t test like an overwhelming athlete, but from his tape, he was a decent big-play threat who had some wiggle once the ball was in his hands. That showed up against the Seahawks. This is Wilson’s third NFL season.
His rookie season was cut completely by a torn labrum in his shoulder, which had been injured previously and played through at Boise State. In 2019 the second-year receiver battled a concussion early in the season and a knee injury in Week 14 that landed him on IR for the rest of the season.
Who is Cedrick Wilson?
Wilson is that beautifully transitioned high school quarterback turned college wide receiver product we have all heard of before. He started off his college career at Coffeyville Community College, a Junior College located in Coffeyville, Kansas. In his two seasons with Coffeyville, he amassed over 1,600 yards receiving with 27 touchdown receptions. The first indicator that this young man has a knack for finding the end zone.
In his two seasons with Boise State, he racked up 2640 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns. From there he was drafted by the Cowboys with the 208th overall pick, making him the second in the family to make it to the league.
Cedrick Wilson Sr. played in seven NFL seasons between the Steelers and 49ers. He won a Super Bowl in 2005 with Pittsburgh. He finished his career with 178 receptions for 2365 yards and eight touchdowns. It’s hard to imagine Jr. doesn’t eventually stare those numbers in the eyes as he galivants past them.
The first Cedrick Wilson touchdown
This was just a simple slant with a nice delayed release, but it was a tone-setter for what was to come in this game. For some inexplicable reason, the Seahawks decided K.J Wright was a viable coverage defender against Wilson here, and the Cowboys took the correct advantage.
But the more impressive part of this play obviously happened after the catch. Wilson does a good job immediately attacking the seam before bending it more toward the sideline in a 1v1 duel against Quandre Diggs.
The slight shoulder shimmy he gives Diggs right at the 19-yard-line forced Diggs to pull up ever so slightly off his pursuit angle, which allowed Wilson to get hip-to-hip with the safety. From there, it was about landing the stiff arm, which the young man did with relative ease. Diggs does a fine job fighting through it and sliding down to make the tackle, but it was too late.
The second touchdown from Wilson wasn’t some feat of route running or acrobatic catching, but what stuck out to me was the adjustment to the ball thrown slightly behind him and the ability to snap downfield with the eyes to get to the pylon. He looked plenty fast on this one.
The intermediate crosser is tough to defend in what looks to be some sort of Cover 3 zone match scheme here by Seattle. The vertical depth of the route forces Shaquill Griffin to take Wilson man to man, and with the outside leverage pre-snap, it’s nearly impossible to carry even a more basic in-breaking route such as Wilson’s. The only real defense to this would be for Ugo Amadi to peek and rob it driving back, which is an incredibly difficult play to make.
Wilson does a nice job here of showing hands late, too, which doesn’t give the trailing Griffin, who already intercepted Dak Prescott off once, the opportunity to undercut the route for another. The young man ended the night with five receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
He wasn’t the only 100-yard receiver.
Michael Gallup dares defenses to forget about him
Gallup is the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL, if you ask me and only me. During the offseason, all the talk was about a healthy Amari Cooper (sigh) and 17th overall pick CeeDee Lamb. Gallup is one of the premier downfield threats in the entire league, and seeing he and Seattle’s D.K Metcalf on the same field during this contest was nothing short of amazing. You can win deep in different ways, and these two certainly do.
Gallup is not the physical freak Metcalf is. It’s actually not even close, really. But Gallup has an uncanny amount of nuance in his abilities as a downfield weapon. On the touchdown reception, he displayed an ability to stack the cornerback as he has now for three seasons in the league.
Trey Flowers attempts to guide Gallup toward the sideline and pinch the route with the natural barrier, but Gallup does an outstanding job wiping away the guiding hand of Flowers, and when Flowers attempts to attempt to reestablish position with the hand, Gallup chops down to gain freedom again.
Gallup looks back early, and when he does, Flowers turns his head along with him, but that creates a bit of separation between the two, and Flowers is forced into recovery mode. This pass is just slightly underthrown, and Gallup’s ability to flash his hands as late as possible to still secure the pass is the reason the cornerback is unable to defend it.
The Cowboys have a great wide receiver corps
With Noah Brown manning the WR5 spot, the Cowboys have five legitimate targets to throw to on any given down. Dalton Schultz has played better since his Week 1 debacle also. There is no stopping the Cowboys passing attack. It may only be contained slightly. The Cowboys defense and special teams though; That’s another story.