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Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Dez Bryant can benefit from Linehan

By Calvin Watkins

While Scott Linehan is working at Valley Ranch this week as the new offensive playcaller, there is one man who should be pleased: Dez Bryant.

Bryant
Bryant
The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2013 after catching 93 passes for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns. Bryant dominated games like no other last season, but there were times -- at Detroit, at New Orleans -- where he disappeared.

You could blame Bill Callahan for not targeting Bryant enough in the passing game, or you could blame the receiver himself for not getting open to help quarterback Tony Romo.

If you look at what Linehan has done with another elite receiver, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Bryant should benefit from a new playcaller for the offense.

Johnson was a double-digit target nine times in 2013 and 13 times the year before. Linehan wants his quarterback, in Detroit it was Matthew Stafford, to find his main threat on offense.

The Cowboys preach to Romo to get the ball to the open man. By doing that, sometimes you forget your playmakers, such as Bryant, who has to fight through coverages to get open. Romo likes to get rid of the ball in two seconds, but with an improving offensive line, he might want to wait just a second longer with Bryant on the field.

Stafford will force throws to Johnson, given the receiver's 6-foot-5 frame, because he's able to use his long arms to reach for passes. Bryant has looked for the same things from Romo, who doesn't like throwing into tight coverage -- what quarterback does? However, Bryant has the confidence he'll get the ball by being more physical than the defensive back.

Linehan can bring a different attitude to the offense when it comes to Bryant.

You can run the same timing-based offense and still find ways for Bryant to get his touches. In big games, Bryant has to be utilized more, especially at the start, so he can get the offense into a groove early.

Bryant is great at encouraging his teammates to keep moving forward when things are struggling with the offense. Linehan has to be great at making sure Bryant gets the ball. Yes, Bryant earned a Pro Bowl selection for his season, but just imagine what his numbers would look like if Linehan had been in charge.