FRISCO, Texas -- When Cole Beasley saw the Dallas Cowboys’ game plan for the Jacksonville Jaguars, he started to get excited. During the week of practice, passes kept coming his way. He got more excited.
By last Friday, Beasley sent a text message to Dak Prescott.
“He said he was taking care of his body and you could just tell his energy was just ready to go,” Prescott said. “He was preparing to have a big game and that’s exactly what he did.”
Beasley caught nine passes for 101 yards, with two of those catches going for first-half touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 40-7 win.
It was a vintage performance for Beasley, circa 2016. His nine catches tied a career high. The 101 yards marked the second time he went for more than 100 yards in his career. It was the seventh two-touchdown-reception game of his career, tying Drew Pearson for the seventh-most multi-touchdown-catch games in franchise history.
“This week, I knew I’d at least have a lot of opportunities,” Beasley said.
It had been awhile. Probably too long.
In 2016, Beasley led the Cowboys in catches with 75. He had a career-high 833 yards and scored five touchdowns. He had at least 50 yards receiving in 10 games. As much as Prescott looked for Dez Bryant and Jason Witten as a rookie, he found Beasley to be equally quarterback-friendly.
In 2017, Beasley had more than 50 yards in a game just once and that was because of a 54-yard catch against the New York Giants in Week 14. He had more than 30 yards receiving in just two other games. His production dropped to just 36 catches for 314 yards and four touchdowns as the passing game floundered.
Beasley found himself getting more attention than he had in 2016, especially with the Cowboys’ inability to consistently make plays outside.
The start of the 2018 season did not look much different. Entering the Jacksonville game, Beasley led the receivers with 17 catches for 193 yards. Seventy-three of those yards came in the season opener.
Because the Jaguars play mostly man coverage, the Cowboys did not need to worry about scheming Beasley open against nickel cornerback Tyler Patmon, a former Cowboy, very often.
“He typically wins one-on-one situations,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s just a hard guy to guard. Very quarterback-friendly.”
The Cowboys’ passing game will never be confused with the Los Angeles Rams or Chargersor the Kansas City Chiefs or New England Patriots. The Cowboys’ passing game cannot be measured in big numbers, but it can be measured in efficiency.
Prescott targeted Beasley 11 times against the Jaguars and he caught nine passes. Seven of those catches came on third down. Four of them led to a first down or a touchdown. One was a yard short of a first down but allowed Garrett the chance to convert a fourth-and-1.
“You saw Witten stuff. You saw No. 1-ish. We talk about what is [a No. 1 receiver], well, of course, but we saw an emphasis on what he does, his level,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “There’s no question we all know his skill is separation and he was able to do that.”
Beasley is never shy to share his feelings, sometimes colorfully on social media. Set to be a free agent after this season, Beasley has talked about wanting to be paid like the top slot receivers in the game. He said he was open consistently, even if he wasn’t getting the ball a lot.
“I know my worth,” Beasley said. “There are a lot of naysayers, a lot of people who try to tell me who I am. It doesn’t mean anything. I know what I’m capable of and I got a lot of opportunities. It was just another day of showing it.”
As with the entire offense, the question will be whether Beasley can repeat the performance or at least be given the chance to repeat the performance, starting Sunday at the Washington Redskins. In 12 games against Washington, he has 39 catches for 415 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the most yards he has against NFC East foes and is tied for the most catches.
“I hope so, we’ll see,” Beasley said. “I just do what I’m called upon to do. Hopefully this will help in the future with that.”