IRVING, Texas -- Earlier in the offseason,
As impossible as that might sound, I applaud Bryant for having that kind of target in mind. It has never been done, and if you look up the NFL record for receiving yards in a season, it was set by Calvin Johnson in 2012 with 1,964. So it is a goal that is at least not completely impossible.
After Bryant’s comments, it got me thinking. What is a more likely goal for him this season? Is it 1,800 or 1,700 yards? The Cowboys single season record for yards is currently held by Michael Irvin at 1,603 yards set in 1995.
To me, that is more of a realistic number for him to aim for. In looking back at Irvin’s record setting season, he caught 111 passes for an average of 14.4 per catch. He had 10 games where he had seven catches or more and three games where he had 10 or more.
In comparison, Bryant caught 92 passes in 2012 for an average of 15 yards per catch. But if you look closely, here is the big difference: Bryant only had five games with seven or more catches. That was half the amount that Irvin was able to grab.
What is interesting about Irvin and Bryant is that they share the physical trait of size, but where Bryant has an advantage over Irvin is in the open field as a ball carrier. In scouting terms, you would classify Bryant’s ability to catch the ball and get up the field as rare.
Irvin as a receiver was powerful and when he caught the ball on the move, he was tough to bring down. With Bryant, you have a combination of power and explosiveness which can turn simple plays into large gains. Bryant’s strength is very similar to Irvin but how he finishes those receptions is where he picks up those extra yards.
As a route runner, Bryant is getting more confident and executing with better technique. With Irvin, this was never an issue. He was outstanding on the slants and outs which isn’t one of Bryant’s strongest suits.
When Irvin went inside, Aikman was able to put the ball right on him consistently and we all saw the results. When Bryant improves this part of his game, he will become a much more complete receiver because where he is better than Irvin is when it comes to the vertical routes and the deep ins across the middle.
Bryant’s ability to gain separation for a guy his size is impressive and Bill Callahan will take advantage of that as a play caller.
Despite having several other weapons on this offense --
Having 2,000 yards receiving might be too much to ask, even for a player with the talent level of Bryant. But with some of his continued development, I believe he can get more than 1,500 yards receiving, which Irvin did in 1991 but also have an outstanding chance to break Irvin’s club record as well.