Does Dez Bryant Actually Have a Chance at 2,000 Receiving Yards?

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 27, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 23:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and apparently that goes for NFL predictions as well.

At least where wide receiver Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys is concerned.

One season after Bryant had a career year and Calvin Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards, Bryant told Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas that he has even bigger sights in mind.

That's still scratching the surface. It's only going to get better, to be honest. I still have a lot to give. I feel like nobody's seen anything. Nothing. I feel like it can be a lot more than that. That's just being honest. I honestly feel like [2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns] can potentially happen.

With all due respect to Bryant, the 24-year-old may have bitten off more than he can chew with this one.

Granted, Bryant went an absolute tear over the second half of last season, reeling in 50 catches for 879 yards and 10 touchdowns over the season's final eight games.

Given that Bryant is just entering the prime of his career, and that he played three of those games with a broken finger that required surgery after the season, why couldn't a healthy Bryant challenge the mythical 2,000-yard barrier for wide receivers?

There are just too many things that would have to break perfectly his way, that's why.

For starters, Bryant's target numbers would have to go up. Way up.

Johnson's record-setting season was born as much of quantity as quality. It took Johnson 122 receptions and a staggering 199 targets to rack up that 1,964 yards.

By weight of comparison, Bryant was targeted 137 times in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. Over his eight game tear to end the season, he was targeted 72 times. So, while his production went up, the number of times that Tony Romo looked his way really didn't.

Assuming that Bryant were to average around 15 yards a catch (as he did in 2012) and a catch percentage of around 67 percent (once again, his number from last year, which were several points higher than Johnson's for what it's worth), then Bryant would need 134 receptions and 200 targets to break the 2,000 yard mark.

That's not likely to happen for a couple of reasons.

Yes, Calvin Johnson was targeted that many times last season, but that was by a quarterback (Matthew Stafford) that attempted nearly five more passes per game than Tony Romo, who attempted over six more passes per game last year than in any season of his 10-year NFL career.

In other words, a quarterback that threw the ball much more last year than he ever has before would have to make a similar jump again in 2013.

Also, of Stafford's 727 passing attempts, 27.4 percent were directed at Calvin Johnson. Of Romo's 648 attempts, 21.1 percent were thrown in Bryant's direction.

So, not only would Romo have to attempt more passes, but he'd also have to target Bryant at a significantly higher clip.

Tony Romo doesn't have to do that. In fact, the Cowboys are probably going to win more games if he doesn't.

Stafford threw at Johnson as much as he did in large part because he had no choice. The Detroit Lions lacked a viable and dependable alternative in the passing game, so, double coverage or not, it was in Megatron we trust.

In tight end Jason Witten and, to a lesser extent, wideout Miles Austin, Romo has a much deeper receiving corps at his disposal. If Bryant is the number one wide receiver and getting the defensive attention that brings with it, why would Romo throw at him 200 times?

The answer is that he won't. Or at least fans of the team should hope that he doesn't because 200 targets for Bryant would mean that something has gone very wrong with the Cowboys offense.

By no means should this be taken as a knock on Bryant. He was outstanding down the stretch last year, and if his comments to McMahon are any indication, then a player that was once considered a world-class headcase appears to be growing up.

"[It's] all having to do with understanding me being a Dallas Cowboy, me knowing who I am as a person, just understanding that I'm a grown man," Bryant said. "It's time to be a leader. It's time to step up and just do what you need to do. Hold yourself accountable."

However, it would appear that there's still some youthful braggadocio in Dez Bryant, and this is one boast that's going to be next to impossible to back up.