The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Grading the ‘Boys: Dez Bryant 2012 Grade

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At Dallas News, I graded Dez Bryant’s 2012 season.

The Numbers

If you want to understand Bryant’s struggles through three weeks, there’s really just one number you need to know: one. That’s the number of times Bryant was targeted downfield 20 yards or more. Yes, in the first three games of the 2012 season, Bryant—a wide receiver with perhaps the best ball skills in the NFL—had one deep target. That’s a major reason Bryant’s efficiency was so poor; he was averaging 12.6 yards-per-catch. It wasn’t an unfamiliar sight since Bryant averaged only 13.9 YPC in his first two years in the league, primarily because he never ranked in the top 50 in the NFL in deep target rate.

Over the Cowboys’ final 13 games, Bryant saw 23 targets of at least 20 yards. Although the Cowboys made an obvious effort to get the ball to Bryant downfield, his total deep targets still ranked him only16th in the NFL by the end of the year. Bryant led the NFL in deep touchdowns with five, and Tony Romo posted 20.5 YPA (yes, 20.5!) when throwing deep to Bryant. Only one of Romo’s deep looks to Bryant was intercepted. Actually, Romo threw only one pick after Week 4 when looking toward Bryant. The Romo-to-Bryant connection produced the third-highest quarterback-to-receiver passer rating in the NFL in 2012.

Even though Bryant clearly became the Cowboys’ No. 1 option by midseason, he still wasn’t targeted enough. Bryant’s 137 targets ranked 11th in the NFL. The receiver caught 67.2 percent of passes thrown his way, and Romo averaged 10.1 YPA on all throws to Bryant. In 2013, the Cowboys will still need to make a better effort to get the ball downfield to Bryant; this year, the average pass to Miles Austin (12.35 yards) actually traveled farther than the average throw to Bryant (12.29 yards).

See the whole article and grade at DMN.

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