If Dez Bryant stays with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, he may come with an improved game. In between all the back-and-forth about Bryant’s future in Dallas and the cost of his contract, Dez has decided to work with NFL wide receiver guru David Robinson to improve his route running. Robinson is an independent training specialist who has worked with guys like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, along with a host of Cowboys players like Brice Butler, Rico Gathers and Ryan Switzer, among others.
Robinson joined 105.3 during the Ben & Skin show to talk about his upcoming work with Bryant. Some highlights of what was discussed (paraphrased):
- Robinson claims that Bryant still shows a lot of explosiveness in and out of his cuts, but because he’s only been asked to do certain things in the offense, they need to wake up the muscle memory for him to do other things. They want to get him faster getting in and out of the top of his routes, get him to drop his weight lower, get his arm mechanics back in shape at the top of his routes when he is going in and out of cuts, and get him to work smoother and more efficiently. They will also be working on his press-coverage release techniques.
- What Robinson does in his workouts with clients is work on the things receivers work on during individual parts of practices, like sinking their hips, working their feet around cones, working on their press release and setting up the corner so they can get a vertical release. Players do this for five or ten minutes in practice, but they do it for two hour sessions so when they get back to the team it is second nature to them.
- Robinson has noticed that when guys get in Bryant’s face and press him at the line, when he releases to the fade he rushes it instead of being patient with his feet at the line of scrimmage, and he’s not setting the defensive back up so he can get back on his vertical line. He tends to get pushed wide a little bit thereby cutting himself off from making plays. When receivers do that they’re making the throw harder for the quarterback. Robinson plans to clean some of those things up when he works with Bryant.
- Robinson believes the Cowboys scheme has something to do with Bryant’s route running. In Bryant’s situation the strength of his game that the Cowboys have noticed is the slant route and jump balls, 50-50 balls, but in Robinson’s opinion he believes Dez can run the whole route tree, he just hasn’t been asked to do so. Robinson also believes the Cowboys should move Dez around more, from outside into the slot some because he’s a mismatch.
The question is can a nine-year vet suddenly improve his game in terms of the mechanics of route running? Robinson believes they can because he’s helped a number of NFL receivers improve at different stages of their career.
It’s also interesting that Dez is choosing to do this. One could speculate that he sees the shortcomings of his game, and knows that to stay on top he needs to make some changes. As receivers age, they need to rely on technique and savvy to compensate for the decline of their physical skills.
Some of the things Robinson is talking about we have discussed numerous times here. The Cowboys do seem to limit what they want Dez to do in terms of the routes they ask him to run. And they also seem to limit where he lines up on the field instead of moving him around more as Robinson and other have suggested they do. It kind of begs the question - Have the Cowboys talked to Dez at all about some changes to how they will utilize him in 2018, so Dez is going out to work on those things? Or is this just simply Dez deciding it was time to do something after a couple of years of declining production?
Either way, it is very encouraging to hear that Bryant is going to be doing some specialty work on his game, trying to become a more polished receiver. The questions is, will he be displaying his new form for Dallas or elsewhere? The odds say Dallas, but you never know.