With 92 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is coming off his most productive of his three seasons in the NFL.
Bryant came on very strong in the second half of last season, playing through a broken finger and painful lower back injury to catch 50 passes for 879 yards with 10 touchdowns in the final eight games of the season. With an offseason to get healthy, Bryant told ESPNDallas.com that he could be the first 2,000-yard receiver in NFL history.
"That's still scratching the surface," Bryant said of his 2012 performance. "It's only going to get better, to be honest. I still have a lot to give. I feel like nobody's seen anything. Nothing.
"I feel like it can be a lot more than that. That's just being honest. I honestly feel like [2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns] can potentially happen."
Proclamations and predictions of upcoming record-breaking performances have become the norm in NFL offseasons. What separates Bryant's self-confidence is that it's happening in March, whereas previous examples occurred at the start of OTAs.
Last May, then-Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush said he wanted to lead the NFL in rushing in 2012. Bush ran for 986 yards, which means he came up 1,112 yards short of beating out Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing yardage lead. Months before the first game of his first season as the St. Louis Rams head coach, Jeff Fisher said he wanted his new team to break the 1984 Chicago Bears' single-season sack record (72). The Rams defense would tie for the NFL lead in sacks, but were still 21 sacks shy of making NFL history.
There's nothing wrong with an NFL player making bold, even ridiculous predictions about their upcoming season. After all, it's that confidence that helped them reach the NFL in the first place. That said, there's a reason no receiver has gained 2,000 yards in a single season.
Even over a 16-game season, it's difficult for a receiver to average the 125 yards per game necessary to reach that level of production because you're only getting, on average, eight-to-ten opportunities to touch the ball in a single game. Opposing defenses will roll their coverages or put a safety over the top to take the opponents' best receiver out of the game, further limiting the opportunities a receiver has to produce . Even if Bryant were to produce at the same exact level he did over the final eight games of the season, where he averaged 110 yards per game, he would have 1,760 receiving yards over a full season. That would be an impressive number, one that Bryant and the Cowboys would take right now, but it's still a number that is well short of NFL history.
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