Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has a strong admirer in Cincinnati. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer spoke about Bryant and the Cowboys with ESPN Dallas’s Galloway and Company, and had this to say about Bryant’s skills (courtesy of the Dallas Morning News):
“He really reminds me in a lot of ways of Michael Irvin. The way he can go get the football, his acceleration, his run after catch, his strength, you know Michael was great. He used to push guys off. Dez seems like he has great strength when running routes in press. He’s made some unbelievable catches on back shoulder fades that (Tony) Romo has thrown to him. In the Redskins game, he caught that ball and ran about 65 yards. He turned on the jets on that one. I think he’s a tremendous football player. They have a lot of talent there.”
NFL coaches love to talk up their opponent’s players the week of a game, so I normally wouldn’t put too much stock in Zimmer’s comments. However, there have been plenty of times in Bryant’s young career when I have had flashbacks to Michael Irvin’s days in Big D while watching the Cowboys because of the Irvin-like physicality that Bryant brings to the receiver position. Zimmer also had plenty of time around Irvin as a Cowboys assistant in the mid-90s, so he isn’t blowing smoke when he makes this comparison.
Like Irvin in his day, Bryant is not a saint off of the field. The difference between Bryant and Irvin is that Irvin brought it every week on the field, and his teammates respected him for that and saw him as one of the team’s leaders. There is no doubt about Bryant’s talent, but if he ever wants to be in the Hall of Fame like Irvin he’s got to demand respect and prove that he can be a consistent team leader for the Cowboys.