Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is making all kinds of headlines this week. Just days after the Cowboys lost 20-16 to the New England Patriots, Jones has criticized his head coach, Jason Garrett and then sort of took those comments back. Now Jones and Cowboys legendary receiver Drew Pearson are once again attacking current Dallas receiver Dez Bryant. On Wednesday, both Jones and Pearson criticized Bryan’s route running and failure to become a superstar five games into his second NFL season.
Let’s not skip over the facts here; Bryant has made some negative headlines since being drafted in the first round of last year’s NFL draft. The Oklahoma State product was sued several times this offseason for unpaid jewelry and rent after breaking his ankle three-fourths of the way through his rookie season.
Bryant has absolutely exploded at the beginning of the three games he’s played this season, but then disappeared in the second half of all three contests. Some (myself included) have questioned Bryant’s conditioning, but the flashy youngster has assured everyone he’s in good shape after bruising his thigh in a Week 1 loss to the New York Jets.
Jones and Pearson believe Bryant’s lack of second-half production is due partly to his route running. Both went on record this week to say Bryant needs to improve his route running to an NFL level.
“Dez needs to concentrate,” Jones said. “Not being critical of him, but he needs to continue to concentrate on his route running because there’s a reason for harping on running correct routes, even though you’re a great receiver. And that is it gets you open.”
Jones may have said he’s “not being critical of” Bryant, but he is. However, Pearson seems to think Bryant’s impressive catches over defenders are unnecessary.
“The finer points of the position aren’t coming to the forefront,” Pearson said. “Route running, discipline of depth on his routes, adjustments, lining up to set up his pass routes. Just the little things. Too many chopped steps on his breaks, not enough separation from defensive backs. That’s why he always has to fight for the ball.”
Bryant’s battling for the ball has been more than impressive this season, but it’s actually a bad thing according to Pearson. To the non NFL player, Bryan’s numbers through 16 games are good for any receiver. The Cowboys’ rising star has recorded 59 receptions for 810 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s a solid set of season totals and that doesn’t include his two touchdowns on punt returns.
Jones and Pearson better be careful because Bryant doesn’t have the experience and maturity to handle truckloads of criticism yet. Plus, he’s only in his second season. The kid doesn’t need to be Michael Irvin or Pearson yet. He will be in time, given he’s got good coaching and support from the Cowboys organization.
Jones’ intent with all this criticism of his players and coaches is slowly becoming disturbing. Pearson is always quick to jump on what who he believes are underperforming players, especially Bryant. The Cowboys’ young receiver doesn’t need that right now. Dallas should help him grow by building him up at this point in his career. If guys like Jones and Pearson continue to tear him down, that’s exactly what will happen to Bryant’s career.