Dez Bryant vs Josh Norman: A very one-sided matchup thus far

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Dez Bryant
LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Dez Bryant /

Recent history suggests to not expect much from Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant this Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

This Sunday’s matchup against the Washington Redskins will mark only the fourth time Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has squared off against Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. Even with that being said, this “rivalry” has quickly become one of the most talked about corner-receiver matchups in the league.

It could be due to the fact these two have very polarizing personalities and are not afraid to speak their mind, especially immediately after games. In 2015 after their 33-14 Thanksgiving Day matchup in which the Cowboys were steamrolled by Norman and the Carolina Panthers, Norman was quick to say after the game Dallas should “get their money back.” He was referring to the monster five-year contract the Cowboys gave Bryant earlier that season totaling $70 million.

While these two have certainly been entertaining to listen to go back and forth off the field, on the field has not been so entertaining if you are a Cowboys fan. According to the numbers, Bryant has been virtually shut down on routes run while being covered by Norman.

  • Week 12 of 2015: 1 catch for 6 yards on 5 targets; 0 TD’s
  • Week 2 of 2016: 0 catches on 2 targets
  • Week 12 of 2016: 3 catches for 32 yards on 5 targets; 0 TD’s

The trend of Bryant being shut down by top level cornerbacks has continued this season. In week 1 while being covered by New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Bryant was able to bring in 2 catches for 43 yards and 0 TD’s. In week 3 while being covered by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, Bryant was able to bring in 2 catches for 12 yards and 1 TD.

This is not a trend you want to see from someone making “elite” wide receiver money and accounting for $17 million against the salary cap this season.

Thankfully for the Cowboys, their offense is built around their ability to run the ball with star running back Ezekiel Elliott behind arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. However, based on the numbers the Redskins defense could pose some problems for the Cowboys offense.

The Redskins defense ranks 8th in the league in yards rushing this year only giving up 567 yards rushing so far. Their defense also ranks 7th in the league in average time per offensive drive. This just happens to be two things the Cowboys pride themselves on being able to do: run the ball and control the tempo of the game by going on long, time consuming drives.

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The Dallas Cowboys will need to find a way to establish the run against a good Redskins run defense. If they cannot get the run established and they need to rely on big plays out of the passing game, history suggests not to expect them from Dez Bryant as long as Josh Norman is his shadow.