Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett recently discussed how Dez Bryant and Michael Irvin share similar traits involving their passion for football and preparation for the NFL. That’s high praise when you compare a young player to a Hall of Fame wide receiver, but let me tell you why Bryant is much better.
I know the mere thought of downgrading any accomplishment “The Playmaker” achieved in his career is blasphemy in Texas, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Dez is the better player now, and going forward.
During their first four seasons in the league, the numbers are not even close. Bryant has the edge in receptions, touchdowns and yardage. Dez has racked up 4,099 receiving yards, 293 receptions and 40 touchdowns. Irvin had exactly half the amount of touchdowns, 122 fewer receptions and 1,131 fewer yards.
In fairness, Irvin only played in 18 games total during the 1989 and 1990 seasons. However, if you eliminate those seasons and replace them with his totals from his fifth and six years, in which he played 16 games, Bryant would still lead in everything but yardage, which he would trail only by 777 yards. It’s also hard to believe Irvin only had 10 TDs once in his career. Bryant was one score shy of having 10 in three consecutive years.
People will argue that they played in two completely different areas. Yes, today’s NFL is a passing league, but just cause they throw it more doesn’t mean the receiver is destined to come down with it. Targeting and catching are entirely different.
I would argue that Irvin’s job was much easier than Bryant’s. He had Emmitt Smith, the league’s all-time leading rusher, to give him more single-coverage opportunities. Add in one of the greatest offensive lines of all time, providing plenty of time to throw the ball for Troy Aikman, and I’d say Irvin should have come down with far more balls than 750 for his career.
It’s clear Bryant is off to the better start, but if his career averages are projected out, then he blows Irvin’s Hall of Fame career out of the water. For the sake of this comparison, let’s assume Bryant only plays eight more seasons, which would give him a 12-year career, the same as Irvin.
Dez will have accumulated 877 receptions, which would park him behind teammate Jason Witten for 18th all-time, and 17 spots ahead of Irvin. He would have 12,291 yards, which would slot him 18th all-time in that category while Irvin is stuck looking up from 23rd place. Finally, when touchdowns are factored in, Dez would finish with 120 TD receptions. That would make him only the sixth WR ever to do so. Irvin managed only 65 TDs, tying him for 48th place.
Irvin is a three-time Super Bowl champion, which obviously affects the fact his bust now resides in Canton, OH. I don’t think it’s out of the question to think Dez could one day join him. He’s already playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Tony Romo, but that’s another discussion. You can read more about that here.