Dez Bryant will always be an extremely tantalizing talent, but his inconsistent play will always curtail his production.
Physically, he's the complete package. His 6'2'', 220-pound frame gives him a size and strength advantage. He's fast, agile and explosive in the open field.
But mentally, he's a completely different story. Lapses in focus cause him to drop numerous catchable passes. He runs imprecise routes, miscommunicates with his quarterback and checks out of the game for long periods of time.
The Cowboys face a very favorable slate of teams in the second half of the season, at least from a passing perspective. The Eagles have struggled in all facets of the game recently. The Redskins are awful against the pass, and you can throw Cleveland, Cincinnati and New Orleans into that category as well.
Yards will be there for the taking, but Bryant won't be engaged enough to take advantage.
Let's examine a few other factors that will lead to inconsistent production from Dallas' prized young target.
This isn't another attempt to bash the equally inconsistent signal-caller, but it must be addressed. How can anyone expect Bryant to be reliable when no one knows which Romo will show up on a game-by-game basis?
You can't. Bryant doesn't make things easy on his quarterback at times, but the fact remains that Romo is just as tough to trust, and receivers are only as good as their quarterback.
Two of Romo's worst games have come against Tampa Bay and the New York Giants. Both are above-average teams, but neither play very good pass defense. It's easier to expect Romo to throw five interceptions against the takeaway-happy Bears defense, but elite quarterbacks must shred below-average secondaries.
Granted, in defense of Romo, he doesn't have a reliable ground game to lean on, and his offensive line has had its struggles at times. But he must be better. That's always been the case, and his 13 interceptions back that up again this year.
Bryant has talent, no doubt about it, but it's hard to gain a rapport with Romo when you never know what's going to happen. Bryant and Romo are equally unpredictable, and that's a terrible combination.
He's not the type of receiver who will still play well through bumps and bruises. He doesn't even play all that well when he's healthy, at least not half of the time. A nagging injury is just another distraction for Bryant, and that's another huge hurdle in front of a productive second half of the season.
In some ways, Bryant is a possession receiver. His 6'2'', 220-pound frame allows him to out-jump or overpower smaller defenders; he's tall enough and definitely strong.
But in other ways he's not. He's a big-play guy, or at least he's supposed to be. He's a violent runner with obvious explosive qualities, and a hip injury could hinder his ability to get out of cuts or make guys miss.
Even if it doesn't, Bryant doesn't need another thing to think about on the field. He needs to be focused on catching the ball. According to the Washington Post, Bryant has six drops this season. That puts him two behind the league leader, and that's not acceptable. Being targeted more increases the sample size, but his hands are still a work in progress.
Watching Bryant is frustrating. He's an intriguing talent with true No. 1 ability, but he can't put it all together. As soon as you think he has, he delivers another poor performance.
Maybe Bryant will improve with age, but there's no reason to think that he will deliver a productive second half this year.