Thursday, October 3, 2013
Dez confident deep vs. double coverage
By Tim MacMahon
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' boss wants to see the ball thrown downfield to Dez Bryant, double coverage be darned.
Jerry Jones made that clear during his radio show on KRLD-FM earlier this week. Bryant would welcome the opportunities, but he discussed the subject with a delicate touch because he doesn’t want to be a diva receiver who demands the ball.
“I’ll say this, I’m very confident in anything that I’m doing,” Bryant said. “I feel that I can do whatever. If that’s what was called -- ‘Let’s get it down to Dez’ -- OK. If it wasn’t, I’m fine, either way. I’m confident in whatever I have to do to help the team.”
According to the ESPN Stats and Information database, quarterback Tony Romo has thrown only three passes to Bryant this season that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. By comparison, Baltimore’s Torrey Smith leads the league in such targets with 16.
Two of those targets came when Bryant was one-on-one against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers. Bryant made a diving catch for a 38-yard gain and dropped another deep ball in the loss to Kansas City. (He also had a 22-yard gain negated by a ticky-tack offensive pass interference penalty in that game, a deep target that didn’t count on the total.)
There has only been one occasion this season when Romo threw deep to Bryant in double coverage. Romo was pressured on that pass in the season opener, and the throw was too short to give Bryant a chance to make a play.
Romo, who noted that he’s never been hesitant to take shots down the field, said the lack of deep throws to Bryant this season is simply because he’s been going “through the progressions and see what the defense is giving you.” However, Romo agreed with the theory that there are times when Bryant should be given a chance to make a play even if it’s not necessarily the right read.
“I think Dez warrants that,” Romo said. “He’s a good enough player to have a chance to do different things. There’s a time and a place. I think everyone understands there are certain double coverages that are different than others. I think Dez has done a great job doing that, and we’re going to try some things to continue to get him the ball.”
Added offensive coordinator Bill Callahan: "It’s Tony’s decision when he’s back there. He reads the leverage of the corners and the leverage of the safeties. Usually that leverage tells him one way or the other whether to deliver the ball or whether to go somewhere else with it."
Romo had great success throwing deep to Bryant last season, when Bryant caught 13 of the 28 20-plus-yard passes thrown to him, gaining 526 yards and scoring five times on those receptions. On such throws in 2012, Bryant ranked 11th in targets, tied for fifth in the NFL in receptions, third in yards and tied for first in touchdowns.
None of those 28 passes were intercepted. Romo has to weigh risk vs. reward in taking shots into double coverage, but Bryant’s combination of strength, leaping ability, ball skills and competitiveness minimize the chances of interceptions.
“Like I said, I’m confident,” Bryant said. “I got to grab the ball, man. I’m going to get it. I honestly feel like I will.”