ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys makes a touchdown pass reception against Rahim Moore #26 of the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Once upon a time before their first Super Bowl the Cowboys were derided as “Next Year’s Champions.”
These days? “Almost Awesome.”
Tony Romo almost had the greatest passing performance in franchise history last Sunday, if not for his late-game interception. The Cowboys almost beat the undefeated Chiefs and Broncos, losing to the 5-0 teams by a combined four points. And Dez Bryant is almost having the type of monster season we all expected.
Before the season, I predicted Bryant would have the best receiving year in Cowboys’ history. That he would break clutch standards set by Drew Pearson and shatter records held by Michael Irvin (111 catches, 1,603 yards in ’05) and Terrell Owens (15 touchdowns in ’07). So, after five games how’s he doing?
Like his team and teammates, Dez has been good. But not good enough.
He dropped that perfect bomb from Romo in Kansas City. He botched that key pass on the sideline in San Diego. He fumbled early against the Broncos, then cost himself a long touchdown late when he took a wacky, wrong path back toward a defender and was tackled inside the 5.
Good. But not great.
Only Wes Welker (7) has more receiving touchdowns than Bryant’s six. And his 29 catches and 423 yards are among the league’s Top 15. But to elevate his game into the Top 5, Dez has to eliminate the drops and the fumbles. Nursing a 17-14 lead on Denver, he hauled in a pass from Romo out to Dallas’ 41 where he fumbled. That oops turned momentum and proved critical in a game where Denver scored on nine of 11 possessions.
Simply put, Dez has to be more careful with the football. He was taken off punt returns because of ball insecurity. In four seasons he has 11 fumbles. In 10 seasons, Larry Fitzgerald has only five. There’s your difference.
As for the record-breaking season? He’s close. Again, good, but not good enough.
He needs to average seven catches, 101 yards and one touchdown per game. So far? 5.8 catches, 84.6 yards and 1.2 touchdowns.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.