We were all kidding ourselves when it came to Dez Bryant with the exception of Julio Jones.
The Atlanta Falcons’ All Everything wide receiver warned the world back in September that Dez was not going to be Dez after he suffered that broken foot in Week 1 against the New York Giants. Julio was right, and the rest of us, including Dez, were in denial.
On Wednesday, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said Dez will not play in the regular season finale and will have surgery on his foot and ankle. The earliest he will be ready to do anything is the start of training camp. This will be two consecutive years Dez will have effectively done nothing with Tony Romo in the offseason; last season, Dez sat out in a contract dispute that was eventually resolved just before the start of practice.
When Dez suffered the broken bone in his foot in Week 1, both he and the Cowboys said he would return in 6 to 8 weeks. Talks of Dez being a quick healer, a competitor, of stem cell injections, a bone graft, etc. allowed us all to believe he would come back in time for a playoff push.
He came back, but he was terrible.
He returned on Nov. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, but there was no playoff push and Dez has looked bad. It did not help that he never had a real quarterback delivering him the ball. He finished with 31 receptions and three touchdowns. Both figures are career lows.
Before the Cowboys played the Falcons in Week 3, Julio Jones warned us this scenario was more than possible.
“With Dez, he’s just going to have to take time and get healed up properly because you can rush these things because of the competitor that he is, you don’t want to rush it and then it sets you back,” Jones said. “I’m not a doctor. I don’t know how he’s going to bounce back from it. For me, speaking for myself, I was probably on bed rest with no weight-bearing for probably two months. That’s before I was even able to go out and run or anything.”
Julio busted his foot before the 2011 NFL Draft, and he re-aggravated that injury in 2013. He was put on injured reserve in early October of that season.
He went through it, and he knew what was coming.
“Just not being able to be out there for your teammates. I feel like I was letting them down, you know, not being out there making plays and working with those guys,” Jones said. “The whole offseason, just working with them, training camp, OTAs, everything, just building that brotherhood. And you’re on the sidelines just looking and you can’t do anything.”
Just like with Tony Romo’s busted clavicle that he suffered in Week 2, the Cowboys knew there was a risk of a serious injury when Dez came back so quickly. Romo re-injured the same clavicle against the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving and was out for the season.
Unlike Dez, Romo will not require surgery.
The Cowboys knew the risks, as did the players. They were all “going for it” because there was enough time to make a run. They never gave their bodies the chance to heal.
They tried, they were just kidding themselves.