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Dez Bryant: More Bark Than Bite

Since coming into the league as a first-round draft pick in 2010, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has been a larger-than-life figure.

From 2012 through 2014, he enjoyed three fine years, with over 1,200 yards receiving in each season. He was also a standout at scoring touchdowns, with 12, 13, and 16 during that run.

In the two years since, however, he’s been beset with injuries, playing in just nine games in 2015, and missing three games in October in the season that just ended. Even taking injuries into account, the 28-year-old’s performance has been slipping.

Most notably, Bryant’s productivity is down. In 2015, he had 31 catches for 401 yards, but it took 74 throws to achieve those ordinary results. In 2016, his 50 catches out of 97 throws isn’t much better. His 2016 average of 61.2 yards per game is only 35th in the league, well below seventh-ranked Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, as well as Davante Adams (33rd).

In terms of bluster, Bryant has been surpassed by Odell Beckham, Jr. as perhaps the league’s biggest ego. Like Beckham, he can be up or down on any given week and is still capable of having a dominant performance. However, in his most recent seven games, his best effort was only 84 yards against the Vikings on December 1.

The Likely Matchup

Everyone is saying that the Packers will put cornerback LaDarius Gunter one-on-one on Bryant for most of the snaps on Sunday. Gunter did a satisfactory job when assigned to Beckham last week.

This matchup should favor Green Bay. Gunter has been the team’s top cornerback on the year. Though Bryant has good size at 6’2” and 220 pounds, Gunter is the same height and weighs a shade over 200 pounds.

Gunter’s speed should be sufficient to shadow Bryant, and without any safety help if need be. Bryant’s 40-yard dash time of 4.52 in 2010 was average back then and he has slowed some in the seven years since. He gets by now mostly by outfighting smaller defenders for catches.

Given this favorable matchup, Cole Beasley (52.1 yards per game, 58th in the NFL) and aging tight end Jason Witten (42.1, 83rd best) might well be more inviting targets for quarterback Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys, with remarkable rookie Prescott leading the way rather than Bryant’s past favorite, QB Tony Romo, do not possess nearly as dynamic a passing attack as they did over the last 10 years or so. They ranked only 23rd in passing yardage this season.

It just might be that the Packers’ pass defense will be a strength on Sunday, not the weak link it’s been for most of the regular season.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. PF4L January 13, 2017

    Here’s a Public Service announcement from PF4L:

    When the Police Drug Enforcement unit ring the bell at your front door, avoid answering it with a joint in your hand.

    1. Chad Lundberg January 13, 2017

      Maybe people are too stoned to realize they have it their hand?

      1. PF4L January 13, 2017

        The funny thing is….i didn’t know McCarthys “gag order” reached outside Lambeau field.

        But apparently, Perrys DUI happened back on Dec. 17th. But just reported today.

        Sam Shields incident happened on Oct. 19th

        Geronimo Allison’s arrest came back on Sept 4th. But just reported 2 days ago.

        I doubt it’s “coincidence” that all these events are reported so long after they occurred.

        Further proof, that you only need to know what’s going on, when and if McCarthy decides you need to know. and not before.

  2. Chad Lundberg January 13, 2017

    Listening to all the pundits and experts this week. Almost all of them picked the Cowboys, even though this was actually the most sensible argument I’ve heard for the game all week. Thanks Rob, this was actually helpful.

  3. PF4L January 13, 2017

    lmao…….You have entered the orgasmic Green Bay Packer spin zone, hosted by the Robster.

    “It just might be that the Packers’ pass defense will be a strength on Sunday” – Robster

    So all of a sudden (for this game)…the Green Bay Packer pass defense will be a strength!!! lol. You kill me dude.

    The 31st rated pass defense will now be a strength!!

    The Packer pass defense, which gives up a league leading 8.1 yards per catch will now be a strength!!

    The same pass defense that gave up 382 passing yards to Bradford and the 28th rated vikings offense.

    The kool aid is strong!!…I love you guys. Keep the faith.

    1. PF4L January 13, 2017

      I’d like to apologize for that outburst of reality.

      It’s just that when i saw “Packers pass defense and the word strength” mentioned in the same sentence, i couldn’t stop laughing in disbelief that i read that.

      1. PF4L January 13, 2017

        Please try to understand, how pathetic of a pass defense is needed, to give up 382 yards to the vikings.