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Cowboys Staffer Critical of Dez Bryant’s Game

Jess Haynie

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Dez Bryant

In an article published today, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer quoted a Dallas Cowboys staff member who was critical of the performance of receiver Dez Bryant. The comment is indicative of what appears to be a movement by some in the organization to move on from Bryant.

The article contained the following quote from the unnamed Cowboys employee:

“Based on last year, he does very few things really well.”

Opinions on Bryant's performance level, and his prospects for the future, vary greatly between sports media members and Cowboys fans. It wouldn't be surprising that the same divide exists in the team's front office.

There is a rising belief that the two biggest voices in the organization, Jerry Jones and his son Stephen, are on opposite sides of the Dez Bryant issue. The assumption is that Jerry wants to keep Dez, as he is generally loyal even to a fault, and that Stephen is ready to shed Bryant's contract and move the team forward.

Dez Bryant: You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant

Of course, we don't know who the quote actually came from or what position they hold. But they'd hardly be the first to cite Bryant's declining performance, or the lack of versatility in his game.

Dez has never been known for having an array of skills or being a polished receiver. He made his name on sheer athleticism and the ability to make big dazzling plays with physical ability. His routes have always been sloppy for a player of his reputation.

With those physical gifts waning, Bryant's lack of technique is becoming more of a problem. He cannot get open as reliably anymore, and that creates problems for his young quarterback who relies on timing to execute the offense.

The last three years have had plenty of x-factors, which have led to some excuses for Dez' decline. In 2015 it was Tony Romo's injury, 2016 saw Bryant having knee issues, and last year was overall offensive decline without Ezekiel Elliott.

Ultimately, the role that any of these played is a matter of personal opinion. One fact is undeniable, though, and that's that Bryant turns 30 in November.

The Cowboys have the luxury of waiting now to decide Dez Bryant's future. They don't need to do anything before the draft, and perhaps want to wait and see what that weekend brings before parting ways with Bryant.

Even if nothing happens, this comment shows that some in the organization have lost faith in the team's top receiver. We'll see what comes of it.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Ervinlang318

    April 5, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Dez spends more time sculpting his body and building muscle than working on his speed and routes

  2. Jack Coleman

    April 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Its sad that you people are putting an unfair amount of blame on Mr. Bryant because every Cowboys receivers numbers were down unless Dez plays quarterback calls plays he doesn’t deserve most of the blame he should be praised for not bringing none of this up to defend himself and one last thing you are worth whatever your boss is willing to pay you for those who are complaining about his pay

  3. cowboysblognet

    April 5, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    It was Rowdy, I’m sure of it.

  4. Mr. Jaguar

    April 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    The article also mentioned that Dez has strong support from Jerry and Garrett. Now that Stephen has told the media its Jerry’s call. It appears that Dez will be a Cowboy in 2018.

  5. Chuck Wright

    April 5, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Truth hurts but Dez is poorly motivated and has been stealing money since his big contract. He pouts, he’s disruptive (have heard he’s worn out his teammates). . .it’s sad he has apologists. . . .He has the WORST record in teh NFL for targets vs catches. … . he has cost the teams wins with fumbles and batted balls for INTs. . . .

    Wake up folks. So sick of seeing him throwing tantrums on the sideline when he’s a big part of the problem. And no one in the league is afraid to leave him in single coverage either. . . yet he gets Top 3 money.

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Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams

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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.



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Player News

DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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Player News

When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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