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Film breakdown: Why Dez Bryant’s production has dipped and how Dallas could fix it

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The Cowboys wide receiver's production has slipped, but could it be reversed by proper play-calling?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time when Dez Bryant was among the dominant wide receivers in the league. From 2012 to 2014, he was practically unstoppable with over 88 catches each season, over 12 TDs and easily over 1,000 yards each year. But since 2015, his production has taken a dip. Some point to the fact that 2014 was Tony Romo’s last big year; he and Dez had a great connection on the field. Dez has also had a run of injuries that has slowed him down.

Friend of BTB and SB Nation, Samuel Gold, decided to take a look at all nine games Dez has played this year to get a feel for what is happening with his game. He summarized it in the following video. It’s well worth a look as it illuminates some of the things many of us have been saying.

You should watch the vid, but if you want a short text version of the conclusions, here you go.

  1. Dez can't separate on fade/sideline routes.
  2. Dez has received a lot of targets (quantity), but the targets haven't been that catchable (quality). Right now roughly 60% of his targets (>9/game) are catchable and during the first five weeks that figure was closer to 50% by my tracking.
  3. Many of his non-catchable targets are on fade routes which means that he can't show off his contested 50/50 catch skills.
  4. Dez runs some of the best dig routes I've ever seen.

If you watch the video, you’ll think to yourself, like many of us have - why don’t the Cowboys throw more slants, digs, and crossing routes to Dez. That’s where he excels.