Tag Archives: Dez Bryant

These are a few of my favorite things…

If there is any satisfaction to be gained by Giants fans during the 2018 season, it will most likely result from the plays coming from several offensive weapons.  That’s right, I said offense. A team rich in the tradition of solid if not spectacular defenses, this year’s New York Giants feature some of the games most exciting stars who are certain to win over fans who are still smarting from last season’s 3-13 finish.

Specifically, I have four players in mind that could change the outcome of a game.  Let’s start with my new favorite player, O’dell Beckum Jr.  95 million dollars (65 million guaranteed) will do a lot to improve a player’s attitude.  The Giants showed that they are indeed all-in regarding OBJ. I believe that he feels the same way.  Prior to the opening kickoff at Met Life Stadium last week, O’Dell was sprinting in front of the rest of the team trying to fire up the crowd. I love it. And I love what the most exciting receiver in the game can do for us when he is healthy.  I am expecting a monster season out of him, one for the record books.  Against the number 1 ranked Jacksonville Jaguar defense, Beckum caught 11 passes for 111 yards. Paltry numbers for him. And Eli missed him on what would certainly have been a touchdown.  Let’s see what he can do against bad defenses.

Now let’s discuss the rookie phenom Saquon “Say Gone” Barkley. That is correct, I said phenom. With no blocking last week against a stout Jaguars line, Barkley had 18 carries for 106 yards, a 5.9 average per carry.  Barkley will do that to you. Sure, prior to his 68 yard run he was bottled up with a 2 + yard per carry average, but he always has the ability, with or without blocking to spring a long one. Watching Barkley run or catch a pass, you believe that he can score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball. The last Giants player to have that type of explosiveness, let me think, was noone. I can’t remember another back with the agility and breakaway speed that Barkley possesses. Sorry David Wilson, sorry Tiki Barber.  Did I mention that Barkley can also catch and block?  Just wait until the Giants utilize all of his tools.

The third weapon that I have in mind could just as easily qualify as a second receiver alongside Beckum. I am referring to none other than last year’s first round selection Evan Engram.  Engram is a modern day version of Jordan Reed, the pass catching tight end who thrived on the Washington Redskins. If Engram can stay healthy, he has the potential to have the impact of a Jimmy Graham or even a Rob Gronkowski.  He has all of the tools to have a breakout season. Fingers crossed on the durability issue.

Weapon number 4 is wide receiver Sterling Shepard.  Against the Jaguars last week, Shepard caught 5 passes for 48 yards, an average of 9.6 yards per catch.  A very talented outside or slot receiver, Shepard will have to accept any balls not thrown to weapons 1-3.  Trust me, he will be very useful this season.

Reality Check

I have made it clear as to what I love about this team. I would be remiss if I didn’t address the unknown.  If you believe it is appropriate to refer to this season as a rebuilding or transition season (I prefer to view last season as an aberration), then we must be honest about a few things.

The offensive line could not block for Saquon last week. Granted it was only game 1 and they did play the number one ranked defense in the NFL last season.  The O-line needs time to gel.  Although they should improve game-by-game, I would not be surprised to see substitutions or replacements on the line.  Both tackles had poor games.  Fans are already calling to replace Right Tackle Ereck Flowers. If he continues to falter at this position, he could see the bench or even be released. Management owes him nothing and they have already shown (Jason Pierre Paul) that they are not afraid to break from the past.  Eli Manning was sacked twice against the Jaguars and hurried repeatedly. The offensive line has to do better if the GMEN are going to win games.

As for the defense, it is hard to condemn a team for only giving up 20 points (7 of those points came on an Eli Manning deflection). The Secondary played well, led by Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins and Eli Apple.  Curtis Riley played competently alongside defensive captain Landon Collins.

The run stoppers did their job led by Damien “Snacks” Harrison who had 6 tackles. Granted, Leonard Fournette left the game early with a hamstring injury but they played well against his worthy backup, T.J. Yeldon.  The GMEN had only one quarterback sack but that number will improve when star pass rusher Olivier Vernon returns to the lineup in week 2 vs. the Cowboys. If he is unable to play, perhaps James Bettcher’s defense should utilize more blitzing from promising rookies Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill.

The glass is clearly half-full in my view. The GMEN lost by 5 points to a Jaguars team that was one half away from going to the Superbowl in 2017.  Time to get on the winning side this week and beat a Dallas team that is now Bryant and Witten-less and does not appear to be as scary as in past seasons.

On a final note, as the song goes… when the final buzzer sounds, when the loss stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!

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Eagles Are Expected To Face Dez Bryant Next Week

The Dallas Cowboys will likely have their star wide receiver back before they face the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday, barring further injury.

Dez Bryant was on the practice field Wednesday for the first time since September 11th after breaking a bone in his right foot during the Cowboys season opener against the Giants on September 13th.  Bryant was limited in practice, and Coach Jason Garrett wants to see him in a full practice before declaring him ready to play against the Seahawks this Sunday.

However, regardless of whether or not he plays against the Seahawks, he is most likely going to play and be a full participant against the Eagles.  Bryant reportedly has been doing rehab and resistance training, along with getting a stem-cell injection in his foot to accelerate the recovery process.

The Cowboys (2-5) are at the bottom of the NFC East, and they desperately need a win against the Seahawks if they are going to stay in what is still a four-way race for the division.  So, they would benefit greatly from having Bryant playing.  If Bryant does come back this week, though, it is unlikely that he will be playing up to his full capabilities, and he still needs time to adjust to Matt Cassel at quarterback.

Nonetheless, the Pro-Bowl receiver will most likely be healthier and more accustomed to playing with Cassel by the time the Eagles and Cowboys prime-time game rolls around.

Bryant didn’t play in the Week 2 matchup between the Eagles and Cowboys, but the Cowboys still won convincingly, 20-10.  Nonetheless, Bryant has been a huge challenge for the Eagles.  The last time he faced the Eagles, he had six receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns.  The only time the Eagles have been able to manage him effectively was in his second year, 2011, when they held him to nine receptions for 90 scoreless yards in two Cowboys losses.  In the three years that followed, however, Bryant has been dominant against Philadelphia, posting a combined 35 receptions for 581 yards and seven touchdowns in six games.  In addition, the Cowboys are 4-2 in those six games.

The Eagles have been good against wide receivers for the most part this season, but they have also not had to face many receivers comparable to Bryant’s level of talent.  When they have gone up against comparable talent, however, the results have been mixed and not necessarily favorable for the Eagles.

In Week 1, Julio Jones burned the Eagles secondary for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and, in Week 3, Brandon Marshall posted 109 yards and a touchdown.  The Eagles did a good job of limiting Odell Beckham Jr. to 61 yards receiving, but they allowed him to score a touchdown, and he was still healing from a hamstring injury.

When the Eagles played the Cowboys without Bryant, the Eagles defense did a decent job of limiting their receiver’s production: Terrance Williams (4 receptions, 84 yards, 1 TD), Devin Street, (1 rec., 18 yards), and Cole Beasley (4 rec., 14 yards).  However, it’s a whole different matchup with Dez Bryant in the game.

Patriots at Cowboys Preview

Heading into the bye week at 3-0 wasn’t much of a surprise for the Patriots. It’s also not much of a surprise that they are 8.5-point favorites heading into Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have been decimated with injuries. They came into the season with high expectations, but losing Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Orlando Scandrick (lost for season) for an extended period of time is going to hurt any team.

They’ve also lost their receiving back Lance Dunbar, and second round pick Randy Gregory.

Losing Romo and Bryant forced the Cowboys to start leaning on their vaunted offensive line and running game to score points.

It has proved to be just as effective in terms of points per game in Romo and Dez’s absence:

 

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Having said that, without Romo, the Cowboys are 0-2 in the all important win column.

They have been beaten late in games by better quarterbacks (Matt Ryan and Drew Brees) and better playmakers (Julio, Freeman, Spiller).

The Falcons ran away with the game in Week 3 in the second half. Erasing an 11-point Dallas lead on the road.

Against the Saints, Drew Brees got the better of the Cowboys in the fourth quarter and overtime. Ending OT with an 80-yard TD pass to Spiller in just 13 seconds.

 

On Offense:

Offensive line: The Cowboys offense is led by one of the best offensive lines in all of football. The Cowboys start 3 first round picks in Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, and the best of them all left tackle Tyron Smith. They also signed rookie La’el Collins as an undrafted free agent who should have also been a first rounder. The Cowboys have scored 5 touchdowns on the ground in the last two games to go along with 121.0 rush yards per game. Joseph Randle has stepped up his game as well, but much of the success on the ground is a result of these guys up front. From a Patriots prospective, it will be interesting to see how the front seven holds up against an o-line that can truly control games.

Joseph Randle: Randle has turned things around after a rocky start. He has found the end zone four times these last two games. Randle ranks near the top of the league in terms of yards after contact logging 184 yards after initial contact with a defender. That ranks him second in the league behind Chicago’s Matt Forte. It may take multiple tacklers to bring Randle down.

Jason Witten: Witten doesn’t put up the same numbers as he used to, but he has to be accounted for and is a great blocker. Witten has had four 1,000 yard seasons in his very good career, but isn’t the same player in the passing game. He is still a reliable veteran and a weapon in the run game.

 

On Defense: Defensively the Cowboys play in a base 4-3 while playing a lot of Tampa-2 coverage (two deep safeties). Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was the assistant and defensive line coach of the 2002 Bucs. They have three players on their defense that attempt to mimic Buccaneer greats DT Warren Sapp, WLB Derrick Brooks, and SS John Lynch.

Tyrone Crawford: Crawford does his best to play hall of famer Warren Sapps role. Obviously he doesn’t do it as well as Sapp, but he’s definitely somebody that needs to be identified up front. Crawford tallied 14 QB hits in 2014, which is tied for most on the team. Crawford has played the second most snaps of any Cowboys defensive lineman behind only defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.

Sean Lee: Injury concerns always come with Lee, but he’s probable for Sunday. Lee suffered a mild concussion last week, but expects to play. He leads the team in tackles, and is their signal caller on defense. Lee man’s the weak side linebacker position, giving his best Derrick Brooks impression.

Barry Church: Church provides a physical presence in the Cowboys secondary, as he ranks third on the team in tackles from his strong safety position. Church was near the top of the leaderboard last year among safeties in terms of run stops, and has played at a similar level through the first four games this season.