Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Amazing TD-filled 2014 of Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks to the TV camera during the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants NFL football game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, November 23, 2014.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks to the TV camera during the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants NFL football game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, November 23, 2014.
The following is the list of every Dallas Cowboy to ever catch more than 10 Touchdowns in a single season.  There are 11 such seasons sorted by TDs:
Dez Bryant201488132016
Terrell Owens200781135515
Frank Clarke196247104314
Dez Bryant201393123313
Terrell Owens200685118013
Bob Hayes196664123213
Dez Bryant201292138212
Bob Hayes196546100312
Lance Rentzel19694396012
Miles Austin200981132011
Laurent Robinson20115485811
It may strike you as interesting that maybe the two most famous wide outs in the history of the club never got there.  Michael Irvin did catch 10 in 1995, but never eclipsed that, and Drew Pearson's high was 8 a few different times.  Of course, it may also strike you that 7 of the 11 most prolific seasons in team history happened in the last decade.  Either that says something about Tony Romo or the current NFL era we live in.  Or both.
Meanwhile, Bob Hayes and Terrell Owens appear on this list twice. But, only one player has been on this list 3 times - and that, of course, is the one and only Dez Bryant - at the age of 26 and only after 5 seasons in the NFL.  He also has a fourth season with 9 TDs.  He is simply and easily on his way to being the most dominating WR in the history of the franchise.
There is certainly more to being a WR than scoring touchdowns, but I doubt many people need to argue that Dez could improve in those departments.  His game is complete and his rough edges have all been smoothed over.  There may be a few receivers in his class in the NFL these days, but make no mistake, that list can easily fit on one hand.
The Cowboys are going to extend him soon (or they are crazy) and I expect he will likely play most if not all of his career with a star on his helmet.  The exercise today was to rate and debate his best touchdowns of his record breaking season.  I have looked at all 16 and admit that his most famous moment is not on this list (in Green Bay) and should be, but let's consider the 16 official touchdowns of 2014 and pick out the best 5.  Then, you can vote your favorite.
He is, by my estimation, the best player on the franchise presently and right in the prime of his career.  In other words, there is no chance I would question paying him the going rate for a player of his caliber.  So let's pick a winner - the best TD of Dez's 2014:
First, HONORABLE MENTIONS.  These, according to my very subjective eye are worthy of mention, but not worthy of the final 5.  Again, this is a subjective game:
The back shoulder fade against the Texans where the rookie Andre Hal was not prepared for the go-to move on the goal-line.  It really looks like he is going against a high school DB here.
One of many Bradley Fletcher moments where the Eagles think a safety is not required against 88.  You do not press Dez Bryant with no help up top.  Of course, Fletcher is not really in press.  He is not really doing anything with conviction.  Corners are terrified to try anything too aggressive and Dez still runs right by them. 

Perhaps this should have been a finalist.  This is just crazy how easy he makes this look.  Fletcher is just demoralized.  Look at the strength and the hands and the casual posture after the catch like he wasn't even strained.  
This demonstrates what Tony Romo is doing.  He doesn't even look at Redskins CB David Amerson.  He simply sees no safety and throws it.  He doesn't even consider the idea that the corner might win.  Then, Dez gets both feet in.  This required a review, but it was a TD.

Look at the speed this man has.  He is too fast and too strong.  Unfair.  When you blitz the Cowboys, you risk this easy read and burned hands.  I was asked how the Cowboys shut down the Redskins blitz in the 2nd meeting.  You are looking at it.  Make them pay.
Candidate #1. The Dominating Jump Ball versus the Colts and Greg Toler.
Toler is 6'0 and generally considered an athletic corner.  He decides he is going to try to get both hands on Dez but again, with no safety on the scene, Romo is just going to throw it to an area and know that Dez is going to treat a corner like this as a traffic cone and overwhelm him with power and then size.  The ease with which he goes up to win these contested battles is just fantastic and rare.  He never seems to lose these jump balls.
Candidate #2.  Underneath throw in London, Bryant beats 7 Jaguars to the goal-line.
You might recall this play from London when in the pregame shows we were hearing about a blown curfew by Bryant.  I mention that because it sure seemed like he had an extra gear that day and this one, from a bunch formation where Dez runs a shallow cross and actually catches the ball behind the line of scrimmage, out-runs the fast safety Jonathan Cyprien to the corner and then just refuses to be denied the end-zone.  It might be his best work of 2014.
Candidate #3.  The Game Winner In New York.
The final minute of the game in New York in November, where the Cowboys needed to put a TD drive together.  This was an amazing play by several players - witness Tyron Smith at LT at Jason Pierre-Paul.  Romo had nearly 10 seconds to throw it and places a perfect ball into the corner of the end-zone where Bryant worked his way open from the left slot against Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie.  This catch is not as good as several others, most likely, but the importance of this TD requires its consideration.
Candidate #4.  Bryant refuses to be tackled against Washington

I never get tired of this TD catch by Dez.  He catches the ball right off the turf at about the 8-yard line.  David Amerson has no chance with his arm tackle and Ryan Clark has Dez around the waist at the 4-yard line.  Despite this, Dez is not going down.  A masterpiece of will which in a nut-shell demonstrates what Bryant is all about as a player.  Relentless.
Candidate #5.  Deep shot in London
Again, against Jacksonville, Dez decided to again show that he is too much for any one guy to pull down.  Romo holds the safety as he is so good at doing with Witten drawing attention underneath so Dez goes on the "Go".  Again, the corner underneath chooses to try to get hands on Dez, which we almost never see work out for that corner (in this case, Dwayne Gratz) and then Jonathan Cyprien must attempt to wrestle him down at the 10, which means Dez pulls him into the end zone.
So, there you have it.  I realize we will not reach a consensus on which one is the finest, but if you want my vote - Give me #2 as the best and #4 as my runner-up.  Now you can vote, too.
But, for me, this simply verifies my feelings all along as we circle back to his long-term extension - as best portrayed in the movie Rounders:
"Pay that man his money."

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