Something Probably Went Wrong if the Cowboys Have Three 1,000-Yard Receivers in 2020

Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup
Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup / Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Amari Cooper made a bold declaration: the Dallas Cowboys would have three 1,000-yard wide receivers in 2020. After adding CeeDee Lamb in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, the Cowboys will trot out one of the more dangerous receiving cores in the league with Lamb, Cooper, and Michael Gallup. Should Cooper's prediction become reality, Cowboys fans would probably be stoked. If the offense is so good it can attribute 3,000 yards to three individuals, things are going great, right?

Well, maybe not. Jeff Saturday was asked on Get Up what he thought about Cooper's statement. He acknowledged that Cooper was mostly trying to show his confidence in his teammates, but the Cowboys need to utilize Ezekiel Elliott to win games. If there are three 1,000-yard wideouts in the locker room by Week 17's end, that means Elliott was a minor factor all year, which would ultimately be a bad thing for Dallas.

Saturday is right. If the Cowboys end up with that many prolific receivers, one of two things have happened, and perhaps both: either Elliott got hurt and the run game wasn't worth going to (bad), or they're constantly playing from behind, meaning they need to throw all the time to rack up those yards (also bad). The Cowboys could trot out one of the best offenses ever and have three receivers hit the 1K mark and have Elliott rush for over 1,000, but looking back, that doesn't seem likely. And even if they do hit those statistical milestones, history is not on their side as far as playoff success.

As listed in the first part of the video, only five squads have had three 1,000-yard receivers. The 1980 Chargers were the first to do it in Don Coryell's vertical offense. Their leading rusher that season was Chuck Muncie, checking in at 659 yards. They lost in the Conference Championship game. The 1989 Washington team had Gerald Riggs rush for 834 yards and failed to qualify for the playoffs entirely, but did go 10-6. The '08 Arizona Cardinals had Edgerrin James run for 514 yards before losing in the Super Bowl.

The other two teams managed to have their respective running backs hit 1,000 yards to go along with a prolific air attack, but the point about playoff success remains the same. The Falcons had three receivers go for 1,000 in 1995 with Craig Heyward hitting that mark as well, but didn't make it past the Wild Card round. The 2004 Colts, a team Saturday was a part of, had Edgerrin James (again) go for 1,548 yards, but lost to the Patriots in the Divisional playoff game and put up all of three points.

Having three receivers go for 1,000 yards is an impressive milestone, but it often means the team is imbalanced. And imbalanced teams don't usually go the distance. The Colts are probably the team Dallas would like to emulate, and are the closest comparison when considering the talent level at each position. But even they faltered in the face of a great defense.

Dallas needs to be clicking on all cylinders to win a championship. Unless Dak Prescott turns into prime Peyton Manning, throwing for that many yards either means the run game is so ineffective they don't bother turning to it or their defense is so bad they're forced to continue throwing the ball. Both of those circumstances probably means Dallas will have to get really lucky to make a deep playoff run. As fun as it would be to imagine Prescott proving the Jones family wrong and ripping apart every defense he faces en route to a February appearance in Tampa Bay, that would mean something went wrong. And for the Cowboys to end the year with a Super Bowl ring, everything has to go right.