On several occasions en route to his staggering 211 yard receiving total, Lions wideout Calvin Johnson used his big, 6'5" 236 pound body to shield defenders, getting between them and the ball. This was particularly effective on several contested passes. Because Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford trusts Johnson to use his superior athleticism to make plays, he is more willing to throw into tight coverage. In the 6'3' 220 pound Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have a physical freak in the Johnson mold. For Bryant to achieve elite status, he'll need to learn to use his body in the ways Johnson does--and Tony Romo will have to trust him as Stafford does Johnson.
When you see the passion and fight Dez has after catching the ball, you can't help but remember those same qualities in Michael Irvin and wonder what the Cowboys can do to unleash the All Pro that's coiled up inside of this young receiver.
In the second half of the Giants game, as a mechanism to take pressure off of Romo, the Cowboys started throwing the ball very early in the routes, before the pass rush could get to Romo. It worked very well. The Cowboys moved down the field and scored a couple of touchdowns.
In watching replays of that game and a few others, I noticed a play where Dez (or Miles) takes veers just to the inside of the CB. For a moment, Romo has an open shot at the receiver. The safety can't get there and neither can an outside linebacker.
Joe Montana and Jerry Rice lived off of another version of this play, the quick slant. It was often a simple 10 yard pass that Rice would catch on a dead run, turn up field and pick up big yards. Obviously, there's a chance that the receiver gets hammered if a linebacker or a safety diagnosis the play early. But if Romo were to hit Dez maybe 5 yards into his route, Dez, like Calvin Johnson, has a size advantage over most CBs plus inside position.
Plus, a few such passes would make cut backs to the sideline or up and outs all the more effective. It just seems like a way for the Cowboys to unleash Dez Bryant, a guy with remarkable gifts that this team needs to better exploit.
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