The Dallas Cowboys always have a lot of buzz circulating around their franchise.
It could be because in the past few years, America’s team has consistently been close to playing on football’s largest stage, but hasn’t been able to get over the hump.
Or it could be due to the outside noise that is routinely present around Jason Garrett’s team.
This year, the topic of conversation was its three best offensive players.
Dak Prescott wanted a contract extension.
Ezekeil Elliot wanted one, too.
And don’t forget about newly-acquired receiver Amari Cooper. He deserves one as well, according to many experts.
Instead, Jerry Jones, the general manager and owner, decided to hand out checks to defensive star Demarcus Lawrence, tackle La’el Collins and even young linebacker Jaylon Smith.
In the past week, Elliot got his money, too, and now the narrative has switched to focus on the quarterback and star wideout.
What is getting lost, though, is the breakout preseason performer who had a remarkable opening Sunday.
The Cowboys used significant draft capital when they selected Michael Gallup in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Gallup had a 1000-yard season in his senior campaign at Colorado State. He’s a big-bodied,6-foot-one-inch, 200-pound wide receiver who wears number 13, just like many great receivers in the league.
So Jerry Jones, general manager and owner — I repeat his title to emphasize its absurdity— of the Cowboys, decided to help out his young quarterback by giving him this weapon.
In Gallup’s first year with America’s team, he struggled with consistency, finishing with 33 catches for 507 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.
So much of playing wide receiver in the NFL is timing, chemistry and familiarity with the system, which can cause a lot of young wideouts to struggle early in their careers.
During Antonio Brown’s rookie season, he had merely 16 catches for 167 yards, and now he is one of the best, and most polarizing, players in football.
In year two, Gallup seemed to have turned a corner in the off-season.
With Amari Cooper dominating the target share, he still is making plays all over the gridiron for the Cowboys.
Gallup’s showing on Sunday was highlighted by his superb 62-yard catch-and-run, where he ran away from three New York Giants on his way to the 25-yard line. This painfully reminded Giants fans of a different number 13 who used to run through secondaries for them on Sundays.
Gallup took the slant pass and darted through arm tackles, breaking into open field and finally getting brought down after a huge gain.
The tall wideout looked fluid, composed and comfortable all day Sunday against a formidable Giants secondary. He caught every ball thrown to him and finished the game with 158 yards on seven catches.
Now, I am not one to overreact to a singular week in the NFL, as time and time again, players and teams who start slow finish strong.
The Saints, for example, got dominated by the Buccaneers in Week 1 last year and then were one bad call away from getting to the Super Bowl.
But, if the Cowboys can get a bona fide second option for Prescott, like Gallup, then there is no doubt in my mind they can make it to February.
If you remember, the Cowboys played the Rams well last year in the playoffs, but couldn’t overcome a dominant first half by Los Angeles.
Gallup had no catches on two targets in the first half, and the Cowboys found themselves down 20-7.
Then, he erupted in the second half, going off with 6 catches for 119 yards on 7 targets.
This not only brought the Cowboys all the way back, but it opened up the run game, too. The Cowboys had two second half rushing touchdowns, and let Amari Cooper gain more separation.
Gallup’s arrival was too late in the Rams game, but he can make an enormous difference in this year’s season.
If the Cowboys want to compete with the NFC’s elite — like the Saints, Seahawks, and Rams — then they are going to have to depend on more than just one wideout.
So watch out for the kid from Colorado State, because he may just be the reason Jones hoists that Lombardi Trophy he craves so much.