Despite how he comes across to some, former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson told The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore he still has faith Dez Bryant will grow into that elite player.
“I feel confident that it will happen for him,” Pearson said. “I hope it happens here.
“Dez understands the situation he’s in and really wants it. Maybe it will all come to him at one time.
“Maybe he’s just a late bloomer.”
But Pearson still has plenty to nitpick about the Cowboys’ third-year receiver.
What stood out recently was the Monday Night Football blunder when Bryant was fooled into thinking the Bears were in press coverage. He adjusted his route and went deep rather than run the hitch that was designed. Cornerback Charles Tillman picked off the pass from Tony Romo and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
“It was a bad read,” Pearson said. “Those are the kind of things that defenses, defensive backs especially, will give you a false look initially. If you’re not cerebral, if you’re not experienced enough to make adjustments, cornerbacks will play those games with you.
“You can’t get fooled by that in your third year in the league. If you made that mistake with coach [Tom] Landry in your third year, that would have been a cardinal sin.”
“When the game is on the line, that is the time No. 88 needs to step up, not take a back seat, not take a step back. That is when No. 88 is expected to shine.”
Part of being consistent is having a few signature routes the quarterback knows he can complete to you in virtually any situation. Pearson had three: the 12-yard sideline route, the 15- to 20-yard turn-in and the 15- to 20-yard end route. Those were his bread and butter.
What does Bryant have? Is he consistent enough with any of them?
“His route tree is limited to the slant, the fade, the go route and the end route,” Pearson said. “That is it. I’ve never seen him run a counter, a post corner, a slant-and-go, a sideline takeoff where he stutters and takes off the way Kevin Ogletree did so successfully in the opener.”
Pearson had been critical of Bryant throughout his first two years with the Cowboys, and Year Three looks to be more of the same. This obviously stems from Bryant wearing the same jersey number that Pearson did during his 11 seasons with the franchise.
“He’s not living up to the expectations that were placed on him by wearing that number,” Pearson recently told the Midland Reporter-Telegram. “Drew Pearson took it to the Ring of Honor level and Michael Irvin took it way beyond that to the Hall of Fame level.
“When Michael and I had a chance to talk to Dez when he came in his rookie year we told him, ‘Don’t do what Drew Pearson did in it. Don’t do what Michael did in it. Do more than that.’ I know that’s a lot to live up to, but what else is there? You live up to those expectations and people will cherish you for the rest of your life.”
Bryant dropped three passes in the Cowboys’ 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears Monday night. Two of those incompletions cost the Cowboys first downs and the third might have gone for a touchdown.
Even though Bryant finished with a career-high 105 receiving yards, the mistakes overshadowed his eight catches.
Pearson focused on Bryant’s mistakes during a Tuesday interview that aired on ESPN.
“You should know your plays. You should know where to be. You should know your adjustments that you need to make,” Pearson said. “You know what your value is to this Cowboys offense. You should be making the big plays to help the offense when they need it. To me, that’s what the 88s are all about. That’s what I did in the 88s, that’s what Michael (Irvin) did in the 88s. I’m not saying Dez needs to be us. But we’d just like to see him carry that tradition on with the 88s a little better.”