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Dalton Schultz has resurfaced among Cowboys' receiving weapons

A return to prominence in the passing attack by tight end Dalton Schultz has helped the Dallas Cowboys break out of their mid-season doldrums.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (86) breaks with the snap against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

DALLAS — All of the talk from Weeks 9-15 was on the slump that quarterback Dak Prescott was in, but no one cared about what happened to Dalton Schultz.

The Dallas Cowboys tight end had five games with at least five targets through the six weeks of the season. The former 2018 fourth-round pick from Stanford also produced at least 45 yards receiving in those games and three touchdowns through all six games.

When Prescott missed Week 8 with a strained calf, Schultz had two catches for 11 yards in the 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings. In the six games since Prescott's Week 9 return, Schultz had 20 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown, which was a paltry sum compared to his 31 catches for 359 yards and three scores in the first six games of the season.

In the past two weeks, Schultz produced eight catches for 67 yards in the 21-6 Week 15 win at the New York Giants, and then eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the Week 16 thumping of Washington, 56-14.

Schutlz told reporters on Dec. 29 that nothing has changed schematically in the offense.

"Our plans don’t change dramatically week to week," said Schultz. "We don’t go into a game plan saying we’re going to feature this guy or we’re going to throw to this guy. I mean, it all kind of shakes out how defenses want to play us. And, so, I think that we just have done a really good job of keeping the quarterback clean, letting him get the ball out. He’s really been decisive and accurate with his throws, especially on the ones to me, the ones I can speak of. But I think it’s just a product of the offense."

Prescott exploded against Washington, completing 28 passes on 39 attempts for 330 yards and four touchdowns. The two-time Pro Bowler threw the ball to nine different receivers, which offensive coordinator Kellen Moore believes is the true reason why Schultz has re-emerged.

"I think we’re doing a great job of distributing the ball on first and second down," said Moore. "Tight ends on first and second down, I think, are nice, easy completions. Usually they are quicker passes, stick routes and what not. But Dalton has had a few of those, catches it, gets upfield, gets eight, 10 yards, and we’re on our way."

Schultz has caught 69 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns in 2021. The yards and scores are the most by a Dallas tight end since Jason Witten in 2013 when he gathered 73 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns.

Do you think the Cowboys should feature their tight ends more in the passing game? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.