Dez Bryant’s Emergence Unsurprising
Dez Bryant has been absolutely sensational over the last three games, and his emergence is really due to a shift in offensive philosophy.
In the Cowboys’ first three games, Bryant didn’t have a single target over 20 yards. Not one. That might seem outrageous for a receiver with Bryant’s ball skills, but it isn’t unusual in Dallas. Actually, Bryant ranked just 51st and 54th in deep ball rate in his first two seasons; for whatever reason, Jason Garrett didn’t send Bryant downfield. The trend continued through the Cowboys’ first six games in 2012, when only 5.9 percent of Bryant’s targets came at least 20 yards downfield. Not surprisingly, Bryant struggled to start the season.
Since that time, however, there’s been a major shift in Bryant’s utilization. In the Cowboys’ most recent six contests, Bryant’s deep ball rate has skyrocketed to 32.7 percent; yes, that’s well over five times the rate over the first six games. On top of that, the average length of Bryant’s targets has jumped as well. With an average distance of only 10.2 yards in the Cowboys’ initial six games, Bryant’s targets have averaged 14.1 yards—an increase of nearly 40 percent—since Week 8.