IRVING, Texas – All the Cowboys have ever wanted from Dez Bryant is consistency.
They've known about his talent long before he was ever drafted. They've also known about his upbringing, his background and everything else that scared off teams from selecting the Oklahoma State receiver back in 2010 until the Cowboys finally got him at No. 24.
He's flashed talent. He's flashed the ability to be a superstar. He's also had a handful of instances where the character concerns have been evident.
So far, everything Bryant was billed to be has been rather true.
But here lately, these last four games to be exact, Bryant is starting to show that consistency of greatness the Cowboys have hoped for all along.
It was evident again Sunday night against the Eagles, and not just with his final stats, which included six catches for 98 yards and two more touchdowns. It's how Bryant handled another slow start by his offense, which affected his stats as well.
Just one catch in the first half typically has been tough for Bryant to overcome mentally. Often when he struggles to make an impact early on, it can linger throughout the game.
Not this time as Bryant was a big-play threat in the second half, putting the offense into the end zone, a place he's been to with frequency of late. Bryant has six touchdowns in the last four games, including consecutive outings with two.
"I thought he handled it well. Dez is a really passionate guy," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He loves football and he wants to be involved in it. When he doesn't get the football it's a good sign that he wants it. There are a lot of guys who are very passive about not getting the ball. 'That's OK. It's not my day.' Dez wants the football, but at the same time, a lot of poise, a lot of composure, the communication on the sideline was really good, getting the things we wanted to get to with him. And certainly in the second half he made a lot of big plays for us."
Garrett admits that hasn't always been the case for Bryant, but is excited about the maturation process that he's seen. He said Bryant has become more patient throughout games.
"I think in so many ways Dez has matured and I think that's one of the ways," Garrett said in reference to patience. "I think his preparation throughout the week has gotten better. I think he's understanding more and more how to practice well and allow that practice work to show up in the ball game. I think he's just been more consistent throughout the game, whether he gets the ball or whether he doesn't get the ball, running his routes, doing his job. And I think the patience and the composure that he had early on in the ball game when he wasn't getting the ball is another sign of that maturity."
But Bryant's playmaking on Sunday night wasn't just a reflection of Tony Romo's great throws, although the quarterback was on the money most of the game, especially in the second half when he went 10-for-10. But Romo also made sure he simply put the ball in Bryant's hands and let the playmaker do his thing. On both of Bryant's touchdowns Sunday night, he needed his ball-carrying skills and speed to find the end zone.
"His ability to run after the catch is outstanding," Garrett said. "I think we saw evidence of that last night. I think the best thing that he did was he went north and south right now. Sometimes when Dez gets in trouble, he starts kind of dancing too much and that plays a little bit into the defense's hand. A lot more guys can get around him. I thought he did a good job of putting his foot in the ground and going north and south, splitting defenders and just getting into the end zone. Anybody who watched him run with the ball after the catch last night knows the passion he plays with. He really, really loves to play this game. He plays with a tremendous amount of determination and drive and an undeniable will. I think we saw that on those two touchdowns."
Through 12 games, Bryant is already at career-highs in all categories, with 71 catches, 978 yards and the eight touchdowns.
Don't look now, but a possible Pro Bowl selection is certainly in the cards for Bryant, who hasn't just made big plays, but they've come at clutch moments.
His first touchdown tied the game Sunday night, then his second one gave them a fourth-quarter lead.
Against the Redskins, he scored twice in the second half with the Cowboys mounting a big comeback. The week before against Cleveland, he scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and he caught the game-tying score on a diving grab the week before in Philadelphia.
Two touchdowns last week, two the week before, a clutch grab before that and another one before that.
Bryant is definitely in a rhythm. One might even dare call it … consistent.