other guys combined, the kind of talent making him capable of taking over a game. But so far this season, he hasn't, alternately brilliant one minute, frustrating the next. The 2010 first-round pick in his second season has a rather modest 26 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns. That stat ties him for the team lead with Austin and Jason Witten. Factored out over a 16-game season, Bryant would finish with 52 catches for 886 yards and eight touchdowns.
Not bad, but consider last season in 12 games before suffering the season-ending leg fracture, he had 46 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns. He was on pace for a 61-catch rookie season, and that after playing just two full seasons and three games in college, along with 748 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns.
So yes, it's time, especially in this game with the way Buffalo has played its defense. Look, no secret the Bills will make a priority of stopping DeMarco Murray's three-game pace that would have him finish a 16-game season with more than 2,500 yards rushing. Context? Emmitt owns the Cowboys' single-season rushing record with 1,773 in 1995.
Chances are, they won't put up with that, likely to drop a safety into the box, creating an eight-man front and limit Murray's room to roam at the line of scrimmage.
That means a lot of single coverage for the Cowboys wideouts, especially since Jason Witten will command a certain amount of attention too, sort of like the Seahawks got caught in last Sunday when Tony Romo hit Austin on that sideline go-pattern for 33 yards and then Bryant to the other side for 39 yards.
Or you remember the 23-yard deep slant Romo hit Bryant with that he fumbled just inside the 1-yard line? Lots of space.
For a quarterback, Romo would be licking his chops to get that kind of coverage on a consistent basis. But it's one thing for Romo to anticipate coverage, but it's another thing for his receivers to win in those situations, and in Bryant's inexperienced case, to recognize what he's expected to do when facing those coverages. He can't be dilly-dallying at the line of scrimmage, looking lost as he has at times this season.
He's gotta go.
It's time for him to go, to realize there is a reason why two No. 88s are up there now in the Ring of Honor and their legacy is in his hands.
Sure Bryant isn't going to win this game all alone. The Cowboys must slow down Bills running back Fred Jackson. Sure the Cowboys have to do a better job of moving the ball, not so much in the red zone as in what I'm calling the deep purple zone – inside the 10-yard line. They just have to be better in goal-to-goal situations, where they have tallied touchdowns only eight of 19 times, including just three of the last nine. And they had better not feed that Bills takeaway machine, either, Buffalo's 20 leading the league (15 interceptions).
But look, Buffalo has given up an average of 28 points in six of their eight games, suggesting the Cowboys should be able to put up some points. And if they are going to with Austin unavailable and Murray drawing extra attention, then it's high time Dez has one of those days.
Like Irvin did 20 years ago.