Taylor Williams

Signs Point To Monster Year For Dez Bryant

Created on Apr. 02, 2013 1:00 PM EST

What is it about the Cowboys that assure us every move they make and every piece of news coming from their locker room will be deliciously provocative? How about a basic or charitable explanation, like market size or genuine devotion for a historically great franchise? Maybe even charismatic journalism?

Nope. It’s because they’ve accomplished little in recent seasons, yet fail to waver from their traditions of issuing heavy contracts and acquiring controversial players.

Unfortunately for Dallas, those dogmas are embodied in the two biggest offensive weapons: Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. The quarterback’s contract extension has, predictably, monopolized headlines, bar chats and talk radio with its longevity and heavy price tag. But Bryant, who unquestionably ranks highly among the NFL’s most physically mismatch-able receivers and overall promising talents, went overboard by saying he could be a 2,000-yard receiver—doubtful.

But there are plenty of circumstances to suggest he could have a tremendously successful season; not that last year’s 92-reception, 1,382-yard campaign wasn’t precisely that. If Bryant stays healthy, there are some very logical and feasible reasons to endorse that notion. Let’s delve deeper.

The Other Skill Players

The configuration of the depth and skill sets on offense points to Bryant being an essential contributor. With Felix Jones a free agent and cap space still limited, the oft-injured DeMarco Murray is, for now, the Cowboys’ only certifiable running back. Dwayne Harris has emerged as the punt returner, and Jason Witten works between the numbers. Miles Austin’s catches and yards have declined by 27 percent and 35 percent, respectively, from his 2009-2010 to 2011-2012 seasons.

The Play-Calling

At about 41 passes per game—third most in the NFL—Tony Romo exceeded his career-high in attempts by 100 throws last year, and Bryant was targeted on more than 20 percent of them. Regardless of whether or not last year’s sole reliance on the passing game was a one-shot gimmick, Bryant has a dynamic, fireball mentor in new receivers coach Derek Dooley. They can relate.

The Opposition

The NFL schedule will be released April 16, but the absence of a veritable shutdown corner in six games is a given—for now. Washington has little more than the aging DeAngelo Hall, Philadelphia will be looking to replace veteran Nnamdi Asomugha and New York remains vested in Corey Webster, who surrendered nearly 1,000 yards last year.

The Man Himself

The reports about Bryant’s legal problems, spats with teammates and team-mandated support plan stained his reputation early in his Cowboys career. But as with every setback in a player’s career, producing on the field conquers all and brings total absolution. The 2,000-yard comment is, in typical Cowboys’ fashion, a flashy, traffic-driving headline pertaining to a story that actually evinces humility and maturation on the part of its subject.

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