The X-Factor: Dez Bryant 2013 Preview + Highlight Videos

Patrick Smith

Dez Bryant is poised to fortify himself as "that guy" at the receiver position for the Dallas Cowboys. Not everyone has been supportive his entire career, and those that have been might get a bit possessive.

Am I the only one that feels a little betrayed when something they've appreciated in solitude gets "mainstreamed"? It's how I felt after raving about "The Wire" as best ever during its first season... then watching people adopt it once it was a five-season, box set Christmas present.

That's how I feel about the Dez Bryant love that's suddenly been coming from every angle over the past six months. People sure do love them some Dez Bryant nowadays.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not under the impression that I was the only one who thought Bryant was a monster in the making. That conga line stretches cross-country and internationally (as witnessed by the commentators on the videos below). Hell, for as excited as I've been about Bryant being on this team since the draft, our own Archie Barberio might just be the Bryant Fan Club President and CEO. There are plenty of others; but collectively we've been in solitude against what seems like the vocal majority. It includes fans of rivals, for sure, but also many that follow this team.

There have been so many along the way that either never supported the draft pick, didn't see his potential, thought he wasn't worth the off-field distractions, et cetera et cetera et cetera. When the incident with his mother happened last year, it was a wrap. The pitchforks were sharpened and the lanterns were gassed up.

It's not as if Dez hasn't been transforming over the years, ascending to the performance of the last eight games of 2012. It's just that so many never wanted to even admit to seeing the signs, to believing it was a possibility mostly because of reasons that didn't have to do with football. If you were purely watching football, you knew.

I know of one blogger who relentlessly assaulted Dez Bryant on twitter, over and over again, for the first two years of his career. The Dez slander he spewed was vitriolic at best, stalker-level at it's worse. Now? His twitter background is a Bryant shrine; yet people who defended Dez before the second half of 2012 were blind homers.

So as we move forward to the 2013 season, it appears that Bryant is on his way to establishing himself as one of the game's top receivers. Mainstream journalists and personalities are writing articles and tv pieces about his personal salvation. Well, some of them are. Others rehash old storylines for views and clicks, purporting as if Dez has done something to them personally. Those of us that have remained confident this day would come, however, now have company. The train ride where we used to have two-seaters to ourselves is quickly becoming standing room only. It sucks a little, to be honest. I kind of enjoyed the leg room.

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2013 should be an interesting turn for Bryant. Here's a look at the matchups, as they stand now, for him over the 16-game regular season. Depth chart designations are courtesy of Ourlads.com. Stat compilations are courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com.

Week Date/Time Opponent Left Cornerback Matchup Notes Right Cornerback
1 9/8 830p NY Giants (NBC) Corey Webster

Prince will most likely be the Giants lead corner this year, the two have never matched up on a pass attempt.

Prince Amukamara
2 9/15 1pm @ Kansas City Brandon Flowers Dallas hasn't faced KC since Dez joined the league (Miles knows them pretty well). Even when Smith was a Dolphin there was no target to Dez/Sean matchup that '11 Thxgiving game. Sean Smith
3 9/22 1pm St. Louis Cortland Finnegan Dallas faced Finnegan in 2010, early in Dez' rookie season. Not much to go off of, 2 targets 1 catch for 9 yards. The physicality in this matchup should be interesting. Janoris Jenkins
4 9/29 4:25pm @ San Diego Derek Cox Cox (Jac) didn't play when Dallas faced them two years ago, and Wright was in college when Dallas played SD last. Cox' Pass Grade for '12 was 1.2, Wright: 3.3. Shareece Wright
5 10/6 4:25pm Denver Champ Bailey Bryant's first matchup against the ageless Champ. Dez has enjoyed matching up against DRC: 4 games, 9 targets, 8 receptions, 166 yards, 2 TDs in the heads-up situation. More, please. Dominique Rodgers Cromartie
6 10/13 8:30pm Washington(NBC) DeAngelo Hall Dez opened his career against MeAngelo catching 5 of 6 targets for short yardage. Solid career numbers vs. the team. Josh Wilson
7 10/20 1pm @ Philadelphia Bradley Fletcher Fletcher comes over from the Rams after losing his starting job to the Wk 3 crew. Williams comes over from Baltimore as a FA. In their one matchup, Dez 6 targets, 6 catches, 35 yards, 2 TDs. Yay! Cary Williams
8 10/27 1pm @ Detroit Chris Houston Two years ago, Dez beat Houston for a nice 25-yard shoulder fade TD to start the game. The only head-to-head occurance for the two. Houston later picked Romo for a 56 yard return. Darius Slay (R)
9 11/3 1pm Minnesota Chris Cook Cook was out of the lineup in 2010 when Dez caught 1 of 2 targets for a 31 yard TD (Lito Sheppard). Cook's Passer Rating against for the last three years: 104, 96, 124. Xavier Rhodes (R)
10 11/10 @ New Orleans (NBC) Jabari Greer Will Rob Ryan have the magic Dez stopping juice? Greer was on the opposite side of the field for Dez' two 58 yard scores last year, which is why Lewis replaces Patrick Robinson. The week prior, Bryant dropped 2 passes while catching 4 against Lewis with Pittsburgh, scoring a TD. Rookie Kenny Vaccaro will be over the top. Keenan Lewis
11 BYE BYE BYE I just don't see anyway Dallas loses this matchup, but never say never. Rest for the rookie
12 11/24 4:25pm @ NY Giants Corey Webster
Dez vs. NYG targets catches yards td drops/int on target
2010 w7 7 4 54 2 1
2010 w10 5 3 104 1 1/1
2011 w17 8 6 70 0 0
2011w14 2 1 50 1 0
2012 w1 5 4 85 0 0
2012 w8 11 5 110 0 2/1
Prince Amukamara
13 11/28 4:30pm Oakland (CBS) DJ Hayden (R) Jenks on Thanksgiving! This will be an interesting matchup for sure. You'd think those two will know a little about each other. Mike Jenkins
14 12/9 8:40pm @Chicago (ESPN) Tim Jennings Dez' success in the '12 matchup didn't come against the main pair (9 targets, 4 catches, 35 yards, 2 drops, 1 INT when targeted). Best duo he'll face all year, by far. Peanut Tillman
15 12/15 4:25pm Green Bay Tramon Williams Dez was the only thing working in Wade's last game back in '10. Against this top pair, 8 targets, 8 receptions, 86 yards and a score. Sam Shields
16 12/22 1pm @ Washington DeAngelo Hall
Dez vs. WAS targets catches yards td drops/int on target
2010 w1 13 8 56 0 0
2011 w3 4 4 63 0 0
2011 w11 8 3 68 1 0
2012 w12 11 8 145 2 0
2012 w17 8 4 71 0 0
Josh Wilson
17 12/29 1pm Philadelphia Bradley Fletcher
PHI targets catches yards td drops/int on target
2011 w16 8 6 62 0 0
2011 w8 4 3 28 0 0
2012 w10 5 3 87 1 0
2012 w13 6 6 98 2 0
Cary Williams

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I promised highlights, and here they are. Just a quick reminder as to what we're looking forward to.

2012 Highlights

2011 Highlights

The Ultimate '88' Highlights

More Cowboys Coverage

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