The Jared Goff led Rams and Brian Hoyer quarterbacked 49ers combined for 80 points last night on Thursday Night Football, only further driving home the absurdity that is the weekly tradition of “Overreaction Monday” around the National Football League.
This Monday, it was the widespread talk of impending doom for a stacked Cowboys offense that was shut down in a 42-17 loss at the Broncos that had many in Cowboys Nation anxiously awaiting the new opportunity that week three in Arizona will present.
While it is smart to say that things can only go up from here for Dallas offensively, the Cowboys may have to rely on moving the football for another game without elite production from WR Dez Bryant. Preparing to face Patrick Peterson of the Cardinals after seeing Janoris Jenkins and Aquib Talib to start the season, the Cowboys need to prove that they can either scheme their top receiver into any game (like the defending NFC Champion Falcons did with Julio Jones in 2016) or win consistently without Bryant dominating games.
Patrick Peterson has always played Dez Bryant fairly well. A big reason why is that he isn’t afraid to get beat over the top. https://t.co/orFQZ4MYdJ
With Dak Prescott as his quarterback, Dez Bryant was actually targeted 16 times against the Broncos – a new career high for passes thrown from #4 to #88. Obviously, the production did not follow these targets as Bryant caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in the blowout loss.
Some of Bryant’s most efficient games have come when he is not force-fed the ball, but rather used intelligently by Scott Linehan as a chess piece capable of taking the top off of a defense at any time or moving the chains underneath.
Putting Bryant in motion to free up the middle of the field, getting him away from physical boundary corners by lining him up in the slot, and keeping him mentally engaged by throwing some slant and screen patters his way are all ways that the Cowboys have found ways to win with and without Bryant carrying the offense.
One thing DBs try to do vs Dez is get their hands in his head/neck area. It can frustrate him at times. https://t.co/UoDYimHJXz
Patrick Peterson is going to be yet another tough match up for Dez Bryant, as one of the most athletic cover corners in the NFL will combine aspects of what Jenkins and Talib have successfully down to slow down Bryant so far this season. With the ability to slow him down at the line, run with him to the boundary, effortlessly stay sticky on Bryant’s physical in-cuts, and play the ball at its highest point in the air, Peterson will make nothing easy when Dak Prescott looks Bryant’s way on Monday night.
One thing that did stand out was Bryant’s touchdown from 2014 against Peterson though, as it reminded me exactly of the play he beat Talib on a week ago for his lone score of this young season (as I explained more in Sean’s Scout).
Here’s Dez’s TD vs Patrick Peterson. https://t.co/ZcIgX1GVrF
Let’s be real about one thing, Cowboys Nation. As excited as we are about Rod Marinelli’s defense slowly improving through the season thanks to the young talent the Cowboys added in the draft, it has been this team’s offense all along that is the source of any Super Bowl aspirations the 2017 Cowboys may have.
There just aren’t many offenses in the NFL that can play at a championship level without a dominant “X” receiver, which Dez Bryant absolutely still is. It may not show this week once again, but Monday night could be a great opportunity for the Cowboys to again prove they can at least utilize Bryant effectively and execute on offense both running the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and throwing to targets that aren’t Bryant.
In games where the Cowboys offense broke 30 points in 2016, Bryant averaged just under four receptions. A closer look at the film from these game would show a #88 that was still very much involved in the offense, which has not been the case through two games in 2017.
Again… expect PP to try to make this a brawl. https://t.co/uE8qBMI7zx
Patrick Peterson won’t provide any relief on a brutal schedule of CBs that Bryant has had the task of lining up against, but no matter the result he will need to help his young quarterback and running back get back on track to avoid consecutive losses.
Only 4 in NFL history with 70+ TD catches in 1st 100 games: Rice Hutson Moss Alworth @DezBryant & @RobGronkowski can join the list
Oh, and a breakout game from Dez Bryant in prime time could land him in elite company with Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. If anyone thinks the past two weeks have truly exposed one of the best WRs in football…