Despite the fact that their team finished the season with a 6-0 win over hated division rival Philadelphia and a respectable 9-7 record overall, most Dallas Cowboys fans would label 2017 as a failure.
The Cowboys missed the playoffs following a dominant 13-3 season in 2016. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott was mired in a domestic violence controversy that led to a six-game suspension. Injuries riddled Dallas’ stout offensive line. Head coach Jason Garrett came under fire for failing to make meaningful adjustments to try and save the season.
And former All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant seemed to regress as a playmaker.
In spite of Bryant’s apparent step backward, it was still a bit shocking to hear team owner Jerry Jones criticize his mercurial receiver so publicly.
Jones had developed a reputation, almost to a fault, of being too much of a “good cop” and players’ owner.
“We need more from Dez. We need bigger plays,” Jones told KRLD-FM radio in Dallas.
“That’s obvious to everybody is we didn’t get big plays. I don’t know that you ever get enough of them, but we certainly didn’t get the amount that we have to have to change our fate here. And, so, I agree with him. We need to have bigger plays.”
“There’s a lot into that, but we’ve got to get more from — he’s [a] top player on our team. He certainly expects to make big plays, the expectation for [quarterback] Dak [Prescott] to get him the ball is there. We’ve gotten used to it. Yeah, we need more from that area.”
Jones isn’t wrong in his assessment.
Bryant played in all 16 games in 2017 after injury-shortened 2015 and 2016 seasons.
He went on to post by far his worst numbers in a year in which he played the entire season.
Bryant caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns. Robby Anderson of the woeful New York Jets posted more yards and touchdowns than Bryant.
While those numbers aren’t terrible per se, they most certainly are not what a team would expect from its second-highest paid player.
Only All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith makes more per year on the Cowboys than Bryant.
Bryant, slated to count $16.5 million against his cap, could potentially be cut considering his unwillingness to restructure his contract to take a pay cut.
He has only two years remaining on his deal, so the Cowboys could conceivably cut him without damaging their long-term cap space too much.
Bryant, 29, was taken in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft out of Oklahoma State.
He led the league in touchdown receptions and made first-team All-Pro in 2014.
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