Dez Bryant caught eight passes for 56 yards in his NFL debut on Sunday night and was targeted by quarterback Tony Romo a team-high 12 times. This after missing all but three games in his final season at Oklahoma State and the entire preseason schedule with Dallas; so was this a case of force-feeding the pedigreed rookie? Not really, according to head coach Wade Phillips.
"[Romo’s] reads took him to Dez," Phillips said, per the Dallas Morning News. "I think he caught eight passes. The guy, I thought, performed well for his first game for almost two years (as, the DMN points out, it was actually one) ... I think he was just a part of the game and it wasn't too big for him and Tony thought he was open and threw to him."
It was encouraging to see the rookie contributing on a crucial and almost-game-winning final drive, a contribute he did, catching passes of 13 and 15 yards. At this rate, Bryant will end the season with 128 catches and 896 yards, though this is obviously based on a minuscule sample size.
Bryant can play at this level; that seems clear. But are we really to believe that Bryant’s high level of involvement was purely incidental? Maybe, but we also know that Bryant represents yet another weapon in that aerial game that Jason Garrett loves so dearly--and, potentially, another reason to look past the running game.
Is Bryant a talent? Yes. Does he make the receiving corps that much better? Sure. He should certainly get a chance to make plays--that is why they brought him in after all. But, after a game lost by the decision to opt for a gamble (the hail mary to end the half) over a kneel down, the team must take care to ensure that these opportunities don’t come at the expense of offensive balance or common sense.
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