Dallas Cowboys: What is wrong with Dez Bryant?

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Dez Bryant /

The Dallas Cowboys top-tier wide receiver Dez Bryant has not been himself lately. What is the cause for his drop in production?

The Dallas Cowboys superstar wide receiver Dez Bryant has not played like the elite receiver that fans have come to expect. Now the reasons for why he has not been productive vary whether it has to do with coaching, game plan, game flow, injury, or other. Let’s explore some of the potential reasons for his decline this season.

The Dallas Cowboys game plan this season has been simple, run the football. That plus conservative play calling limits Bryant’s chances to make an impact on the field. Think about it, the Cowboys are not the deep threat team of 2016, they have seemed to add more check downs and small yardage plays to their arsenal.

This has an immediate impact on everyone in the offense, not just Dez. Cole Beasley’s usage has been cut in half as he seems to be less of a factor in most games. Depending on the specific game plan, the team exploits certain matchups and more often than not, Dez is the most heavily covered wide receiver in the offense.

The team does still seem to look for Bryant when he has a one on one matchup but that rarely is the case. Most of the time Bryant is double covered so the Dallas Cowboys have to figure out a plan to combat this. It is not just the defensive coverage but also the sudden regression of the Dallas Cowboys elite offensive line.

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Injuries and a lack of depth have hurt this team in ways that have not been seen since early in the Romo era. This offense has been hindered by the lack of protection Dak Prescott is receiving so until that is fixed it will be tough to hang in the pocket consistency. 

So far, the 2017 season has seen Bryant accumulate 578 passing yards, 53 receptions, and four touchdowns and actually that has been pretty standard. Dez has recorded only three 1,000 plus yard seasons in his time with the Dallas Cowboys but his stats show the growth of this team as a whole. During that time span (2012-2014) he also recorded double-digit touchdowns and this was because he had finally reached the apex of his abilities.

His chemistry with former quarterback, Tony Romo was undeniable and is what made him such a deadly weapon. Then the 2015 season occurred and that disrupted Bryant’s growth. From 2016 forward Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys have been adjusting to their new signal caller, Dak Prescott.

Dez has actually had similar numbers to when he was a rookie but that makes some sense as he is only in his second year with Prescott. Romo also gave Dez over 100 targets per season which allowed him to produce more consistently.

In Prescott’s first year Dez saw 96 targets but in 2017 has already seen over 100 targets. In comparison to a player like let’s say AJ Green who objectively is elite, Dez has similar numbers but is also in a less pass-oriented offense.

Green had five straight seasons with 1,000 plus yards, now that is impressive. His similarities with Bryant come as he too has only recorded double-digit touchdown totals in three seasons so far in the NFL. Green maintains a 55+ catch percentage while Bryant is hovering around 52 percent with Dak.

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In reality, by the time this season is over Bryant should have around 8 touchdowns and 800 or so yards. Now is that the type of production we expect from a superstar like Bryant, of course not, however offensive production is a process and the Bryant/Prescott connection is still relatively new.

In a year his numbers should improve and the talk of digression should cease as the Cowboys are poised for a bounce back 2018 season if they address several of the issues that are plaguing this roster.