The Dallas Cowboys fell flat in prime time during their regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday night. The high-flying Cowboys’ offense, which finished first in scoring last season averaging a whopping 31.2 points per game, now possesses the worst offense in the NFL after Week One, recording a mere three points against the Bucs in the 19-3 blowout.
On top of suffering the embarrassing loss, the team also suffered various injuries across their roster. The most impactful being the fractured thumb suffered by quarterback Dak Prescott. The seventh-year passer had surgery on Monday and it’s unclear when he’ll return to the field. Although owner and general manager Jerry Jones hopes it could be within the next four games.
To say the Cowboys’ offense is looking for a spark this weekend as they welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to AT&T Stadium would be an understatement. With backup quarterback Cooper Rush under center, Dallas will need big performances in order to compete with a Bengals squad fresh off a Super Bowl appearance.
That spark might come from an unexpected place this Sunday. And that’s from 26-year old rookie wide receiver KaVontae Turpin. The diminutive spark plug, who’s officially listed at 5-foot-9 and 153-pounds, wowed fans of America’s Team in the preseason by scoring not one, but two touchdowns on special teams returns against the Los Angeles Chargers.
But the 2022 USFL MVP is more than just a dangerous return man. He’s also a legitimate receiver and gadget player. Turpin racked up 44 receptions on 53 targets for a league-leading 540 yards and four touchdowns in nine games. His longest reception was for just 39 yards, but Turpin lead the USFL in Yards After Catch (YAC) with a combined 316 yards. That was 60 yards more than the next closest player who played in 10 games.
Against the Bucs in his NFL regular season debut, Turpin played in just two offensive snaps and didn’t even make the stat sheet. He did have five total special teams returns, his longest going for 22 yards.
With Rush under center and a patchwork offensive line to protect him, one of the many ways the Cowboys can take the pressure off their inexperienced quarterback is to use Turpin more. One area he can help is as a gadget player on those jet sweeps which he was so effective at in the USFL.
But Dallas should also not ignore his speed as a deep threat. The Cowboys desperately need someone to be able to take the top off of the Bengals’ defense. Perhaps targeting Turpin deep a couple times would open things up for receivers like CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown underneath. Just the threat of a deep Rush-to-Turpin connection might be enough to spark this Dallas offense.
The Dallas Cowboys have a special weapon in KaVontae Turpin who has yet to be tapped. It would seem to be wise to try and take advantage of his talents especially if the offense continues to struggle like it did in Week One.