CeeDee Lamb had big shoes to fill after the Dallas Cowboys traded away former WR1 Amari Cooper this offseason.
Lamb had a rough start to the season, and people started questioning whether he really has what it takes to be a WR1 in the NFL. But Lamb’s play in recent weeks has proven he’s more than capable of being the top receiving option on a contending team.
Let’s rewind the game film and review Lamb’s play through four games.
A rocky start to the year
The Cowboys 19-3 Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wasn’t pretty for Lamb. He was targeted 11 times and came down with just two receptions for 29 yards.
After the game, Lamb was highly criticized for his inefficient performance. But considering Dallas only scored three points, Lamb wasn’t the only player who struggled.
Dak Prescott exited late in the game with a thumb injury before Cooper Rush came in for relief. The two combined for 173 passing yards and one interception. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for a measly 60 rushing yards on 16 carries.
The only players who performed well were Noah Brown and Dalton Schultz, who had 68 and 62 receiving yards, respectively.
So it was unfair to lay all the blame on Lamb for the Cowboys putrid offensive performance. The offense’s inability to establish a rushing attack made it easy for the Buccaneers’ defense to give extra attention to Lamb.
Lamb’s production has spiked drastically
The third-year receiver’s performances have been night and day in Week 2, 3 and 4 compared to what we saw in Week 1.
In the three games since the loss to Tampa Bay, Lamb has averaged a tick above 86 receiving yards per game. He’s also scored two touchdowns in that span.
The former Oklahoma Sooner struggled finding the endzone in his first two seasons. As a rookie, Lamb caught five touchdown passes and followed it up with six in year two. But Lamb is already on pace to set a career high.
Pro Football Focus has given Lamb a 73.2 overall player grade. This ranks 28th among qualifying wide receivers.
An unlikely teammate has opened things up for Lamb
Noah Brown has shot out of the gates to start the 2022 season. Brown’s averaged 68.5 yards per game, and his best performance came in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown torched the Bengals secondary to the tune of 91 yards and a touchdown, averaging 18.2 yards per reception.
Brown has the 14th-best PFF wide receiver grade at 76.8. That’s higher than marquee players like Justin Jefferson, D.K. Metcalf and DeVonta Smith.
Having another big-play receiver like Brown has helped open things up for Lamb. Defenses have been forced to give attention to Brown, rather than implementing bracket coverage on Lamb.
The return of Michael Gallup will also open things up for Lamb. Gallup made his season debut against the Washington Commanders after tearing his ACL in Week 17 last year. He was on a limited snap count, but still managed to record 24 receiving yards and a touchdown in the win.
As Gallup’s workload continues ramping up to full capacity, the Cowboys will soon have a formidable group of wide receivers and Lamb will keep putting up big numbers.