Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is one of the most exciting players in the NFL. He’s looking for a new contract that will give him added incentive to exceed expectations. With the help of his new coach Scott Linehan, I think he has his best season yet.
Linehan has a pretty good track record when it comes to getting the most out of the passing game, as well as his No. 1 WR in each of his stops. He’s worked with the likes of Torry Holt, Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson.
Under Linehan, Holt averaged 83 receptions, 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns. Moss averaged 88 receptions, 1,248 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson averaged 89 receptions 1,448 yards and 10 touchdowns. Bryant is currently averaging 73 receptions, 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns per season.
So, what should be expected from Bryant under Linehan?
Judging from the statistics, it’s hard to think that Bryant won’t have improved numbers. I think those improvements will likely come in receptions and yardage categories.
Touchdowns are a little trickier. Long touchdown gains and red zone targets can vary greatly from year to year. Judging his output in this category is tough, but as the numbers show, none of these guys averaged below 10 TDs a year. So at worst, his current TD output won’t change.
One of the biggest reasons I expect improvements in the other categories is the fact that Linehan will move Bryant around in different formations. He may play from each wide out spot or the slot; this isn’t groundbreaking. Bill Callahan moved Dez around, but still struggled to find him at times. I think Linehan will make sure to exploit and take advantage of the right matchups.
Fellow wide receivers Cole Beasley, Devin Street and Dwayne Harris have experience in the slot. Dallas has even tried tight end Gavin Escobar there in some formations. Conversely, Beasley and Street have also been taking snaps for the outside receiver spot opposite Terrance Williams. This type of versatility from the group will allow Bryant free reigns to attack from any position. It can also confuse the defense. If they are unsure or missing the right personnel, they will be easier to exploit.
History shows us that Linehan knows what he’s doing, hence why he keeps getting hired. He makes the passing game better as a whole and can even improve some of the best and most freakish athletes in NFL history. Another opportunity looms with that type of athlete in Bryant. The rest of the league should be put on notice, Bryant is about to be unleashed.