Calvin Johnson is really good. Duh, we all knew that. His 14 catches for 329 yards and a touchdown just emphasized that point.
What was less known was how good some of the other receivers playing yesterday are. There were seven wideouts with 100 yards receiving yesterday.
Three of them (Johnson, AJ Green, and Jordy Nelson) were not surprising, but the other four (Josh Gordon, Harry Douglas, Marvin Jones and Kenny Stills) were a bit more unexpected.
For the purpose of this discussion, we can throw Gordon and Douglas out because both are the de facto No. 1 receivers on their teams at this point in the season.
Being a No. 1 receiver leads to more targets, and, therefore, more opportunities for yardage. Marvin and Stills, however, are the No. 3 receiver, at best, on their teams. Being lower on the depth chart means that players need to excel at efficiency in order to produce great games like this. Stills turned his four targets into 129 yards, and Jones caught all eight of his targets, leading to 122 yards (and four touchdowns).
From a fantasy standpoint, this really does not mean much. Sure, it is great if you happened to have had Stills or Jones in your lineup this week, but it will be difficult for them to replicate these games on a consistent basis.
Jones only played 19 snaps yesterday according to Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus, and Stills plays for the Saints who will probably call some guy off the street to catch two touchdowns next week. Both are clear secondary targets on their teams who happened to have had great day yesterday. It will happen every once in a while, but not often enough.
Sticking with wide receivers, Dez Bryant also had himself a day yesterday. After claiming all week that he was on the same level as Calvin Johnson, Bryant looked to have a point early in the game when he made one of the most acrobatic touchdown catches you will see.
Johnson went on to have one of the best days ever for a receiver, making Bryant’s point moot, but what everyone was talking about after the game was Bryant getting into sideline altercations with his teammates during the game.
The first happened after a third down when Bryant called for the ball and Romo instead threw to Dwayne Harris, and the second altercation was near the end of the game when Bryant and Jason Witten got heated on the sideline.
Numerous analysts came out after the game claiming that Bryant was turning into a team cancer similar to how Terrell Owens once was. Their favorite stat to quote: the Cowboys have not won a game when Bryant catches two touchdowns. Might as well trade the guy, then. In the words of Mike Singletary, “cannot play with him, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them.”
Except that is stupid. Bryant is a top-five wide receiver in the NFL. There is no situation where not having him on the field for you makes your team better. I was watching Sportscenter last night, and I thought that Trent Dilfer and Tom Jackson made some good points regarding the situation.
Professional athletes are competitors, and competitors get heated when they are losing. Both Dilfer and Jackson listed prior teammates of theirs who had personalities similar to Bryant. Players like Ray Lewis and other Hall of Famers. Their main point was that you cannot be a top level athlete without having some sort of ego and dedication to the game, which is what Bryant is showing on the sideline.
If the team is doing well, everyone will get along (proof of this: Jason Garret’s reaction to Bryant’s second touchdown catch), and, if the team is not doing well, those personalities will clash on the sideline. It becomes a problem if the dissention lasts into practice during the week, but it is not a problem if it happens during the game.
Just in case anyone had forgotten, Adrian Peterson is really good. His touchdown run at the end of the second half last night was one of the most impressive runs you will see by an NFL player. Peterson appeared to be stuffed at the line (once again) when he broke away (once again), broke a few more tackles for good measure, and dove for the end zone. The play call was risky as Minnesota would have more than likely been forced to settle for a field goal had Peterson not scored, and the execution almost put a lot of heat on offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
With how Peterson’s season has gone so far on the field, there has been talk that the gap between Peterson and the second best runningback has lessened. That is not true. Coming into last night, Peterson had more rushing yards than he did last year at this point in the season.
You know, last season when he won MVP and nearly broke the record for most rushing yards in a season. More than likely, Peterson will not be the best player in the league again like he was last year (a nearly impossible feat given his position, and its value), but it would take another catastrophic injury for anyone else at his position to take his best-at-the-position title.