Overall Bryant’s rookie campaign was nothing short of a success as I would surely give him a grade of at least a B-. In the first game of the year against the Redskins, Bryant was targeted 12 times by then-offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Guess that was just a sign of things to come.
In some ways Bryant’s rookie year read like soap opera. There was the shoulder pad incident with Roy Williams, a sprained ankle and a sideline blow-up.
Let’s take a look at Bryant’s rookie season in all of its explosive stages.
Every rookie goes through some type of hazing. Either you’re wrapped around the goal post with tape or you have to carry a veteran’s shoulder pads, so which is it? Bryant chose neither as he decided to forego any type of rookie tradition and said no to Roy’s advances. Wait—that sounds dirty. In the end Roy said that it wasn’t a big deal, and Dez stated that all was good between the two. That was until Roy decided he wanted payback and stuck Dez with a dinner bill of $54,000. An expensive payback for not carrying shoulder pads don’t you think?
There was so much hoopla around Bryant’s draft that one was led to believe Bryant was going to single-handediy win the Cowboys a Super Bowl. Last year, the Cowboys fell two games short of the Super Bowl, and Jones obviously thought that they were maybe one playmaker away from getting there. Unfortunately Bryant’s train was derailed as soon as it got on the tracks. Bryant and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick were tangled going for a pass, and Scandrick ended Bryant’s training camp.
Dez was targeted 12 times against Washington in the opener, yet he managed only 56 yards on eight catches. The majority of his catches came on bubble screens, but it was Garrett’s way of trying to ease him into the offense. Over the next four games Bryant had a combined 10 catches for 155 yards and one touchdown. Not exactly ideal for a guy who was pegged to changed the Cowboys offense.
After a four-game stretch that saw Dez start slowly, partly due to his ankle injury, he finally got hot and became a serious threat on offense and special teams. In Week 10 against the New York Giants, Bryant caught three balls for a 104 yards and one touchdown. Dez returned a couple of punts for touchdowns, and fans and pundits started to consider him for Rookie of the Year.
Before Bryant fell to the Cowboys in the draft, there were major concerns about his character and maturity. Those concerns were raised again when the Cowboys played the Saints on Thanksgiving Day. Bryant blew up on the sideline by pointing his finger and hollering. Dez was frustrated because he had no catches and was shut out of the offense. Some said it was passion, like Dez, and others said that it could be the beginning of a serious locker room problem for Dallas. We’ll soon find out.
The past two years have been turbulent for Bryant as he was suspended by the NCAA for rules violations and this year he injures his ankle, and it ends his rookie campaign. Bryant caught one ball for 14 yards and was mostly ineffective on special teams. But all in all, the Cowboys rookie showed his team and the league that he will be a problem in the future. He just has to stay on the field.