Kevin Ogletree made the most of his opportunity against the Giants but will he be consistent?
By Matthew Postins
No one stuck out more during the Dallas Cowboys’ 24-17 win over the New York Giants than Kevin Ogletree.
The fourth-year receiver had a coming out part against the Giants, catching a career-high 8 passes for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now put that in relation to Ogletree’s career. Before Wednesday night Ogletree had career numbers of 25 catches, 294 yards and zero touchdowns.
Nothing in Ogletree’s body of work would indicate that Ogletree would have that kind of night. But now that it’s happened, what now?
Before the Giants game there was questions surrounding whether Ogletree would actually be the third wide receiver. So, first off, that question is answered. For now. He’ll be the No. 3 wide receiver. In the NFL these days a player with Ogletree’s talent and output only gets “for now.”
Ogletree was the beneficiary of circumstances beyond his control. Injuries to Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant provided Ogletree with weeks of playing time in practice and in preseason with quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys had no choice but to pair the two up, and you saw the result against the Giants. Romo has more trust in Ogletree because of the extra reps in August.
That trust was never more evident than in the final play before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. A penalty eliminated a DeMarco Murray run that would have moved the chains and ended the game. Facing 3rd-and-10, Romo went to Ogletree to move the chains, get to the two-minute warning and end the game.
Without Ogletree, the Cowboys could not have won that game.
For the next week and a half Ogletree will be the talk of Dallas. But what are the proper expectations for a fourth-year receiver who, in one game, put up about one-third of his career output in three seasons?
One could look to Laurent Robinson’s numbers last year as a potential indicator. Robinson, a free-agent signing during last season, emerged as the No. 3 wide receiver and ended up putting up impressive numbers – 54 catches, 858 yards, 11 touchdowns. Now consider that Austin missed six games last year due to injury, and at times Robinson was the No. 2 receiver.
Are those numbers reasonable to expect from a player like Ogletree? Perhaps, especially if Austin, Bryant and Witten remain healthy the entire season. A full complement of receivers would allow Ogletree to operate in one-on-one situations against safeties or linebackers, matchups that would benefit him. Those were the kinds of matches he took advantage of against the Giants.
But the season has an ebb and flow that is hardly predictable. The NFL is filled with performances like Ogletree’s – big numbers that come out of nowhere and never come around again.
So Ogletree will be praised this week. There will be plenty of prognosticating by the writers and talk radio about how this is Ogletree’s emergence as a player in the Cowboys’ offense. Fans will go crazy. Fantasy owners will pick him up in droves.
It’s one thing to put up big numbers. Any player can do that. Consistency is the next step.
Perhaps we should take a more novel approach when it comes to determining Ogletree’s future.
Let him player another game first?