A Blueprint to Stop Dez? The Dallas Cowboys Must Overcome


Oct 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver

Dez Bryant

(88) along the sidelines during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

As if the butt-kicking itself wasn’t bad enough, the New Orleans Saints may have exposed something far more damaging than a single loss. Rob Ryan may have cracked the code on Dez Bryant.

The most unstoppable Cowboy was stopped on Sunday night. Rob Ryan seemed determined to stop Dez Bryant at all costs, and except for the one 44 yard circus catch, he succeeded. Even worse than shutting Dez down on Sunday, is the realization that every other NFL team just learned how to stop Dez (and how to stop this offense).

Dez was double covered in a multitude of ways. At times he faced single press coverage at the line with a safety over the top. At times he faced two defenders at the line, both bumping and pressing like they would in a punt coverage situation. At other times a third defender slipped back into a middle zone to take away the slant route. The coverage was intense…and successful.

Oct 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs for yards after the catch against Detroit Lions strong safety Glover Quin (27) during 2nd half of a game at Ford Field. Lions won 31-30. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

This type of coverage is simple to duplicate and does not require Pro-Bowl defenders to execute it. This is something the Giants, Raiders, Packers, Redskins, and Eagles can all do to stop Number 88. Some of it was pretty innovative but for the most part, this has been done before to top WRs all over the league. Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith…they all see this from time to time. So what gives?

How can those other WRs beat coverage like this but Dez can’t?

Reason #1

If one player is double or triple covered, then other players are single covered or not covered at all. It’s those players who must make defenses pay for their coverage. The Cowboys were unable to do this. Tony Romo was especially fidgety in the pocket and inaccurate in his reads and throws. Terrance Williams and Jason Witten also seemed to be missing a gear and had trouble creating the separation we’ve grown accustomed to.

If the Cowboys want to prevent opponents from shutting down Dez then the other players need to step it up. It should have been a fairly easy thing to do but it seems nothing was easy for the Cowboys on Sunday.

Reason #2

Oct 13, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) catches a pass during the third quarter in a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park. San Francisco 49ers won 32-20. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Dez doesn’t know multiple receiver positions like he should. When coverage is obnoxiously rolled over to the likes of Fitzgerald and Johnson, they simply go in motion and play from a different position. They move around until the coverage is more to their liking. Dez doesn’t do that.

Eventually he moved into the slot but it was extremely foreign to him and not something he is accustomed to. Blame coaching, blame his classroom studies, blame it all.

Unless Dez and the Dallas Cowboys enjoyed how their offense looked on Sunday night they better do something over the bye week to correct it. The Blueprint is out. It’s up to Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys to step up their games or we can expect more of the same.

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