Yes, by cowbell I do mean Dez Bryant, in case you were asking. The past two NFL seasons have been swirling with questions about when and where to use Bryant on special teams. Dallas Cowboys owner/GM, Jerry Jones, has said many times that his team doesn’t mind making “business decisions” when it comes to placing Bryant on the field. Mr. Jones, I have a business decision for you right here: Put Dez in on EVERY punt return.
Before I go a little further I want to jog your memory banks. It was Thanksgiving Day 2011. The Dallas Cowboys were playing the Miami Dolphins in a very close game. It was the 4h quarter and the Cowboys were down by two points. Miami lines up to punt and with the game on the line, Jason Garrett and Joe DeCamilles make a last second decision to have Dez Bryant return the punt. He trots onto the field, still buckling up his chin strap as the punt sails high. Bryant catches the punt at his own 15 yard line, and makes 4 people miss as he is tackled across the 35 yard line. Just watching the replay makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. He’s that good.
I haven’t been one of Dez’s biggest supporters, and his lack of knowledge of the playbook and conditioning gave me the impression that he didn’t care. Instead, I was looking through his production with the Cowboys fan sun-glasses, where we expect Pro Bowl results out of rookies and even 2nd year players. I have backed off quite a bit, because realistically Dez has only had 1 full off season to gain that knowledge, strength, and conditioning. His first season he sat out most of the preseason with an ankle injury, and that season was cut short with a broken leg. Last season didn’t allow him to practice with coaches until the lockout had been lifted, and he was injured in week 1 against the Jets with a deep thigh bruise that bothered him the entire year. And let me be clear, I am not making excuses. I expect Dez to play at the highest level, but there are extenuating circumstances.
This team needs Bryant out for a punt return at every opportunity. If you are down by a score or two, the type of play that he is capable of making is a definite momentum shift. If you are tied or even leading the game, a play he is capable of making can proverbially “twist the knife”. The Eagles have DeSean Jackson and the Patriots have Wes Welker. They return punts because they are exceptional athletes that can turn a game around in 1 snap.
Although we have not seen anything from Morris Claiborne, our 1st round pick in this years draft, he was a prolific and exciting kick returner in his years at LSU, and he should be utilized to his full ability. Injury concerns are just that; “concerns”. There are only three phases to a football game: offense, defense, and special teams. We cannot neglect the kicking game because we are worried about injuries, and must but the best 11 players on the field; especially the game changers.
Mr. Jones, this is a public service announcement from Christopher Walken, and Cowboys fans everywhere. We need more Dez on punt returns. Leave the “business” decisions to ‘Prime Time’.