When you have an All-Pro receiver like Dez Bryant, that’s an invaluable weapon on Sundays. However, after only producing one catch for eight yards this past Sunday, many folks are left shaking their heads. Why is it that this group of coaches seem to have such a hard time utilizing perhaps their greatest weapon?
Some have argued on various outlets this week that maybe Dez Bryant isn’t as elite as we, as Cowboys fans, like to think. Dez has 59 touchdowns since he began his career in 2010, the only player with more is Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and mainly due to Dez Bryant being injured last season. That is elite. On the NFL active receiver’s list, Dez ranks 11th, that list mainly consists of guys who are about to hang it up.
The problem has never been Dez Bryant’s abilities, it’s the environment in which he plays in. This is a staff that has shown new ways in which to ignore Dez Bryant. For one reason or the other, Bryant was a ghost in last week’s game. Dak Prescott played it very close to the vest and we’re not certain that was intentional or just how the cookie crumbled that day but I would argue it’s a bit of both. Dak was a little off on the timing of that touchdown attempt to Bryant and even then, Bryant still hauled it in but the ball moved. Dez has to do a better job at controlling that ball but it was a tick late, which could have been the difference of seven points.
Dez has never been the fastest receiver, that’s not his game. What Dez Bryant does is something unexplainable, unteachable, the dude is a monster. He’s a nightmare and someone that has to be game-planned for. Dez is so physical at the point of the attack that he often wins his battles with his ability to create separation and innate way of playing the game of “My Ball”!
That’s why we become so dumbfounded when this team has a game like they did on Sunday. The New York Giants loaded the box and the Cowboys never made them pay for it. The Giants got away with picking both poisons from the Cowboys and succeeding. That cannot happen again and these coaches and quarterback need to figure this one out. Dak said in the preseason that if Dez were to face one-on-one coverage that it’s too easy to not get him the ball. Somehow in this past game, they forgot all about that promise. Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, and even Terrance Williams are nice pieces to have but none of them are Dez Bryant.
Dez had 16 touchdowns in 2014, a year in which the Cowboys did most of their talking on the ground. When it’s time to take flight, this team has to be willing to pull the trigger and let it rip. Look at how Atlanta uses Julio Jones or how Pittsburgh uses Antonio Brown. Why do the Cowboys insist on keeping Dez Bryant on one side of the field? They rarely move him around and that’s the difference between winning and losing the battle. When Dallas has moved Dez around, they have found tremendous success, it's not like they never do it. They just have these moments that can only be described as stubbornness in my mind where they forget what to do.
In order for this rookie quarterback to lead the team to victories while they await the return of Tony Romo, they have to get a guy like Dez Bryant involved with every chance they can get. There truly isn't an excuse that will do.
Other teams have found ways to manage not having out of this world quarterback play and have had success. Great talent can supersede the dropoff at quarterback if the gameplan will allow it to. Dak Prescott is no "scrub", he was decent in his rookie debut but now he's got to let his playmakers do the work for him.
If it was the gameplan to throw 45 times and only complete one pass to Dez Bryant then that's the wrong plan. All joking aside, the Cowboys don't want Dak throwing 45 times a game. They want efficient passing and a strong running game. Everything just fell apart in week one but it's not too late to figure it out. What it's going to take is a dedication to putting the pedal to the metal. When the box is stacked, they have to be able to take advantage of single coverage on the outside or over the middle. They have to realize that it's the playmakers that win the games not the original ideology of their gameplan that week. Dez Bryant is the ultimate backbreaker, it's high time the Cowboys utilize him as such.