Getting the Ball Deep to Dez Bryant
There’s absolutely nothing the Cowboys need to do more than find a way to get Dez Bryant the ball deep. Bryant broke out in 2013 only after the team made an obvious effort to ramp up his downdield targets. At NBC, I explored the situation:
Before the 2012 season, I wrote the following in my article Dez Bryant Will Be True No. 1 in 2012:
“Over the past two years, only 18.7 percent of Bryant’s targets came on passes that were thrown 20 or more yards. The playmaker has ranked only 51st and 54th in deep target rate over the past two years, according to Pro Football Focus. With Bryant’s undeniable ball skills, it’s a guarantee you’ll see his deep ball rate increase in 2012.”
And Bryant’s deep ball rate did increase. But only after the first three games (during which Bryant saw only one deep look). It’s no wonder it took Bryant a few weeks to break out. After it was all said and done, Bryant still ranked just 45th in the NFL in deep target rate in 2012. That’s not going to cut it.
So the top way the Cowboys can improve offensively in 2013 is to get the ball to Bryant deep pretty much any time he sees single coverage. He’s that good at fighting for the ball; he caught 50 percent of his deep looks in 2012—the second-highest mark for anyone with as many targets as him. Bryant’s 491 yards and five scores on deep touchdowns ranked him fourth and second in the NFL, respectively.
Check it out right here.