Bryant finally catches on
Cowboys receiver takes three years to develop into star.
Finding greater meaning in pro football these days can sometimes be a painful, and often fruitless, task but I give you . . . Dez Bryant? Seriously. He has earned it. The lesson in Dez is to never forget the rule of Tom Landry: We are always better to wait a bit before making a final call on anything.
About six months ago, Dez was sitting by his mother in the law offices of Royce West trying to explain a domestic dispute. Around that time the consensus was Dez is a man-child who will never learn. And, he isn’t worth the headache because the production would never intersect with the potential. That Jerry Jones should never have pulled rank to draft this kid.
It is nearly impossible to envision the Dallas Cowboys going into the final game of the regular season against the Redskins with a chance to win the NFC East without Dez.
Their best chance may be Dez.
The lesson in Dez is to always follow the rule of Tom Landry: You have to give a player three years; a player by his third year either gets it, or he doesn’t.
This is Dez’s third year, and it does appear as if he is getting it.
In the last eight games, Dez has 46 receptions for 808 yards and 10 TDs. He neutered the Saints’ defense on Sunday with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
“(The Lions’) Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant are the two best wide receivers in football right now,” said former Cowboys receiver and current NFL Network mouth Michael Irvin.
In this stretch, Dez also had a “sources confirmed that he is going to be placed on injured reserve with a broken index finger” against the Bengals on Dec. 12. Since he suffered that “seasonending” injury early in the fourth quarter of that game, he has caught four touchdowns.
“He’s done an amazing job with that finger; it doesn’t seem to affect him in any way, shape or form,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters on Monday. “I think he’s growing. He’s playing with a great deal of confidence. He and (quarterback) Tony Romo have a really, really good relationship. He’s been good, there is no question about that.”
Much like his entire team, no one could ever say Dez does not care.
Much like his entire team, no one could say Dez always played smart.
Of late, however, it’s impossible to ignore that Dez is playing smarter, and that his quarterback trusts this man to be where he is supposed to be when he is supposed to be there.
There may not be a Cowboy in recent memory any more fun to watch, or scarier, than Dez. No one on the Cowboys since The Playmaker can “go get it” the way Dez can.
Watching him run away from defenders, holding the football like a golf ball, no different than Walter Payton, is highly entertaining and terrifying.
It was all possible simply because the Cowboys never white-flagged Dez, and Dez obviously never stopped trying.
Ridiculous expectations combined with constraints of a salary cap have mandated first-round draft picks play like five-year veterans.
Combine that with Dez’s well-known upbringing that most of us simply cannot imagine and you have the cliched recipe for First-Round Bust.
This does not mean Dez is going to be hassle free for the next eight years. The Cowboys are very likely going to have to be on guard for a while before they don’t have to worry if Dez is out past midnight on his birthday. Yes, apparently Dez Bryant is also a Gremlin.
Dez will likely still need “a professional friend” to hang out with him to protect him from himself, Lil Wayne or the North-Park Mall security team for a while longer.
What this stretch of games means is that the production can meet the potential, and Dez can be worth the headache.
What this stretch of games means is that Tom Landry knew what he was talking about: Guys need time.
Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant runs for his second touchdown on Sunday against the Saints despite breaking an index finger on Dec. 12.