IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant's 22-yard first-down reception and 31-yard jump ball touchdown grab didn't stop his coaches from being critical after Saturday's game against the Dolphins.
Rather than focus all on the positives, Bryant's coaches harped on the receiver's inability to run a crisp route on another play that got called back– and that's just the way Bryant wants it.
"You should never be satisfied – nobody," Bryant said. "Never get comfortable. That's when you start falling downhill. Like I said, you've got to always have room to grow. I have a lot. I feel like I have a lot of room to grow. I'm going to continue to keep doing that.
Bryant's been criticized before, but rarely is it for a failure to take criticism. In fact, he said that's never been a question.
Bryant would rather get constructive criticism on what he's doing wrong than positive feedback on what he's doing right, and he said that's always been the case.
"Always. I've always been that way. I want to know if I'm doing it right, if I'm not," Bryant said. "If it's not right, tell me it's not right. I want to do my best to fix it. That's what it's about, being honest."
Head coach Jason Garrett said most players know when they've done something right or wrong on the field. Bryant is no exception.
The receiver wants to be the best football player possible, and because of that, Garrett said he's always accepted and understood strong coaching.
"He's a pro," Garrett said. "He wants to be great. He listens to coaching, and he really gets better each and every day."
Bryant was nearly perfect in the last preseason game, but it's the nitpicky details Bryant wants to be meticulous about that could make him even more elite.
Despite hauling in at least 90 catches, going for at least 1,200 yards and recording double-digit touchdowns each of the past two seasons, Bryant knows there's still room to grow and he needs teaching along the way. That includes fixing up his route running.
"I honestly feel like I made a complete jump from being an average route runner to now a good route runner," Bryant said. "It's a step ahead of good. So I'm making an improvement and I'm going to keep continuing to do it in that area, as far as catching the ball, keeping my eyes on the ball, not being nonchalant, taking my eyes off the ball. You know, relying on my hands."
A lot went into Bryant's progress as a route runner, allowing him to go from "average" to "good," in his words. He said he's learned to be faster off the line, winning more in the first five yards of a route and bursting at the end of the route to create a better target for the quarterback. [embedded_ad]
That knowledge is a direct result of constructive criticism and coaching. He knows he'll be commended at times if he does something right, but he wants coaches to be hard on him when he runs a route incorrectly.
His ability to soak up teaching and translate it to the field has allowed coaches to give him more opportunities. This year, he appears to be getting more chances in the slot to exploit better matchups.
That's something Bryant's excited about in 2014. And if he's just a "good" route runner now, he may just be tapping into his potential.
"You can be more creative whenever you're on top of your game and you're learning all the stuff the coach is throwing at you," Bryant said. "It just makes it easier for the offense. It makes it easier for everybody.
"The more that you learn, the more stuff gets thrown at you. I think that's what's going on, and I'm just embracing every bit of it."