Talent has never been an issue in Dez Bryant's game. But after his latest effort against the Chicago Bears last Monday night, there are definitely some concerns about Bryant. He is entering his third NFL season, which is supposed to be the "breakout" season for wide receivers. Typically in the their third season, wide receivers begin to have a good understanding of the game.
Take the miscue between Tony Romo and Bryant on the 25-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. With the safety blitz coming off the edge, Romo anticipated the blitz and threw the ball according to his hot route. Bryant was supposed to cut off his route and run a quick hitch. Instead of running the quick hitch, Bryant continued to run a double move and fly up the field.
It's a play that good wide receivers make, but I do want to point this out. There is some confusion to whether Bryant or Romo made the error. According to head coach Jason Garrett, the wide receiver and quarterback each saw the play differently.
With the safety blitzing off the edge, Dez saw the opportunity for the big play deep down the field. Romo didn't see it that way and opted for the safer option of the quick hitch. Regardless of who is right or wrong, there isn't a whole lot of chemistry between our talented young wide receiver and franchise quarterback.
Perhaps the most puzzling and shocking events of the evening were the three dropped passes that Bryant had. They were out of character for Bryant because he has some of the best hands that I have ever seen. There are only two other wide receivers in the game today (Hakeem Nicks and Larry Fitzgerald) that I believe to have better hands than Bryant.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bryant only dropped the football four times in 2010 after being targeted 71 times. In 2011, Bryant's targets increased to 100, but he only had one drop that entire season. Bryant has shown that he can be reliable when catching the football in his career. His recent case of "butterfingers" should go away eventually.
The Dallas Cowboys may not be in a must-win scenario yet, but this is a game that they need to show some improvement offensively. The passing game has been inconsistent and nearly non-existent the past few weeks. Mistakes and turnovers on offense are costing this team points on the scoreboard. If Dez Bryant and the Cowboys can eliminate the self-made mistakes they have been making on offense, then they would be having a fantastic season.
Dez enters the Baltimore game with a lot of negativity surrounding him, but I believe we will see him have a huge game on Sunday. The Cowboys have a big play wide receiver in Miles Austin, but Bryant is the home run waiting to happen every time he touches the football. That doesn't mean Dez will have it easy against the Baltimore Ravens. While the Ravens are ranked only 22nd in the NFL against the pass, they have a very good secondary on paper.
We've discussed Ed Reed for the past few days and have detailed how dangerous he can be, but you already know how good Reed is. It will be interesting to see which cornerback the Ravens decide to employ against Bryant.
Do they go with Lardarius Webb (5'10", 182) or Cary Williams (6'1", 190) on Bryant? If you are not too familiar with Webb, think of the 2009 version of Mike Jenkins, but only better. That is how good of a cornerback Webb is becoming. He is a fantastic cover cornerback who possesses great speed and quickness. Williams is the more physical of the two. He uses his size to get physical with wide receivers and does his best to press at the line of scrimmage.
The Ravens also have the talented Jimmy Smith in their stable of cornerbacks. Don't be surprised if the Ravens attempt to get Smith in the game against Bryant. Smith has the size (6'2", 210) to get physical with wide receivers, but he is also a very good athlete with superior coverage skills.
Bryant has had some trouble with physical cornerback play in the past. Dez needs to do a better job of not letting the opposing cornerback get into his head. I have noticed that cornerbacks will get physical and try to get Dez off his game. If he ever wants to take it to the next level as a wide receiver, then Bryant will need to become stronger mentally.
We need #88 had to have another big game this Sunday. Showing up for all four quarters and performing at a high level against the Ravens will not only help the Cowboys possibly win the game, but it will also do a lot for Bryant going forward with the rest of the season.