By Mike Fisher
LANDOVER, Md. (105.3 The Fan) – Dez Bryant often accurately characterizes himself as “misunderstood,” a portrayal that’s easy to clear up … once you actually visit with the Cowboys star receiver, as I did Sunday night in an exclusive interview after Dallas’ 33-19 victory at Washington.
“That’s a super-huge win,” Bryant said as his Cowboys moved to 4-3. “But we can’t get in a comfort zone. Because if we get into a comfort zone, we ain’t gonna reach where we want to go. We’ve got to keep strong – got to keep playing strong. And keep on building.”
Bryant credited Dallas’ playmaking defense for playing an important role in the victory, the Cowboys’ fifth straight at D.C.
“Look, I’ve been knowing that. … All pass-rush. They want to get to the QB. They fly. They talk about it all the time. They compete with one another, just like our (receivers) group does. That’s why they’re playing so great.”
Dez and that “competitive” nature came under scrutiny during the FOX telecast when it was suggested, mid-game that he was complaining about the number of balls thrown him. By Monday morning, various media outlets are insisting he was “barking,” “whining” and was “Bryant was one unhappy camper.”
I asked Bryant about his demonstrative hand signals.
“I was calling out the coverages,” he said. “I always call out the coverages. I put my hands up and call out the coverages.”
That doesn’t mean, of course, that Bryant is unemotional during these games. That’s well-chronicled, as Cowboys coach Jason Garrett noted on Monday on 105.3 The Fan.
“I thought it was all positive,” Garrett said. “Dez has such great passion and intensity for the game. He’s into it. He loves it, he loves playing football, he loves our team. He’s just one of those guys who competes every down and in every situation to be the best. That’s something that’s so positive for us.
Garrett continued: “I think he understood the nature of the game. With the conditions we were going to run the ball more. He was just encouraging everybody. That’s the conversation I had with him. Again, all very positive. Champing at the bit to get back out there and get going again. I thought Dez (with four catches for 39 yards, Dallas’ leading receiver) did a nice job with the opportunity. He … helped the team win the game.”
National TV crews have a Sunday history now of “misunderstanding” Bryant’s sideline behavior; oftentimes, it takes until Wednesday, when NFL Films releases audio to go with the video, for Dez watchers to quit lip-reading and actually listen. Meanwhile, there will continue to be “hot takes” about “Dez vs. Josh Norman,” the Washington cornerback and a Bryant “frienemy” with whom he shares time in a phone company TV ad.
“It was fun,” Dez told me when I asked him about tangling with Norman. “We didn’t get the battle we wanted. But it’s not about us two. It’ll eventually come. We’ve got another game (Redskins at Cowboys on Nov. 30).”