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Brice Butler on Dez's critics, playing for Jerry Jones and more

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NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Brice Butler

Wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys

Born: Jan. 29, 1990

Experience: Fifth NFL season

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | October 9, 2017

When I first got to Dallas when I first got traded [in 2015], I didn't really know a lot about the team. When Tony got hurt then, the whole team was like, "Oh, shoot. What are we going to do?" It didn't feel that way when he got hurt last year.

[Dak's rookie performance] wasn't one of those things that shocked me. It was one of those things where as time went on and you saw his progression, it was like Hey, this guy's pretty good. Then when Tony Romo got hurt, Dak came in and balled.

The season we had last year was magical. That doesn't happen that much in the league where you have a team that runs the table and wins the Super Bowl. Carolina ran the table a few years ago and lost the Super Bowl. You get some teams that run the table and don't make it to the Super Bowl. That was us.

I feel like fans expect [us to repeat the 2016 season]. It's natural. I get it. I mean, I'm a Warriors fan so if they lose 20 games, I'm gonna be like, "What's going on?" But [losing] 20 games is still great. But as a fan, I get why people are like, "What's wrong with the team?"

We are a different team. We do look different. The games we were winning at the beginning of last year that were tight games, we aren't winning those this year so far. We definitely have a tougher schedule but we still can pull those wins out. We're just trying to figure it out with the team we have now.

We just haven't been finishing. Honestly, I would say [in Week 4 against the Rams] when we got the ball back [at the end of the game], it was an eerie feeling. It didn't feel how it did last year in Pittsburgh when they had just scored and we got the ball back with like a minute left. We were like, "We're gonna go score." It didn't feel like that against the Rams.

But on Sunday night [against the Packers], I feel like we had that feeling. We were going to go down there and score, and we did. And even when they scored again to win the game, we went out there for the little lateral play and we thought we could win that game. The play before that, we had Cole Beasley wide open down the middle and we just overshot him a bit. There was no give up. There were 11 seconds left and we were figure out a way to win. We were right there.

[Aaron Rodgers] is just a beast. He's a special player. Playing with Derek Carr (in 2014 and '15), I see a lot of similarities between Rodgers and Carr in how they throw the ball, get rid of it and make plays with their feet. Aaron probably does it a little bit more.

Rodgers gets rid of the ball so quick. I was standing next to our chaplain after the first play of their final drive. And Rodgers just flicks a fade back shoulder to Davante [Adams], and the chaplain looks at me and goes, "I wasn't ready for the ball to be thrown yet." He's just a special player and thrives in those type of moments. Not everybody is great in those moments. He's just one of those guys that you know you don't want to give him time because most of the time he'll figure out a way to make it look scary.

[Dez's critics] are just fans overanalyzing and looking at early stats. A lot of guys on different teams get off to really good starts because teams feature their guys. Look at Julio [Jones] or [Antonio Brown]. They're catching 10 to 12 balls a game.

I love fantasy but fantasy ruins fans' appreciation of players because now it's not like, "Oh, this is Dez Bryant, a receiver for the Dallas Cowboys." It's, "This is the guy who's on my team. He better freaking perform or I'm benching you." It turns into that. People say he's not good anymore because his fantasy points are dry.

In our offense, we don't have it where guys are going to catch 13, 14 balls a game. That's just not us. We're a very balanced team. Dez obviously gets the most targets out of everybody because he's supposed to. But we don't have that Green Bay Pack-style offense. We're going to run the ball 25 to 30 times a game.

Knowing him personally, I hope Dez doesn't allow what people are saying to affect him either. That can be tough sometimes when you turn on social media and people are talking at you. He's been playing well, especially the last few weeks, so hopefully, he can keep that rolling.

I didn't play that much [in Week 3's "Monday Night Football" game]. I only played like eight plays. The thing with me in my career, I've always had pretty good games on Monday night. My rookie year, my best game the whole season was on Monday night. Then I never played another Monday night until last year and I caught a touchdown. So really, it was just one of those It's Monday night. You always ball on Monday night and you're gonna make something happen. Just be ready when the time comes. That was really my whole mindset. Before I knew it, I was out there scrambling and Dak hit me and I scored. I was like, "All right, cool."

Dallas is like the spotlight. Everything is high-level, top-class. Everything is done right as far as how our team is talked about or looked at. That star logo transcends a lot of things, especially in the sports world. Jerry [Jones] worked very hard to uphold that. That's his baby. He's a football guy and he's done a great job with the organization. You kinda feel that when you're walking around, especially in the new facility. [The Joneses are] always there and you feel that their family is very proud of what they've accomplished and what they've done. You know that whatever it takes they're going to protect it.

We're on national TV almost every game, and I love that. I love the middle-of-the-field camera. For me, it's just something that clicks in me that says, This is a nationally televised game. Do what you gotta do.

In the offseason, I did a lot of soul-searching, mirror-looking and talking to myself to figure out what I need to do to take it to the next level. I've always known being in the same class as Julio [Jones] and A.J. [Green] that I can put up numbers like them. I just wasn't doing it. For a long time in college and my first couple of years in the league, I used to try to point the blame like it's politics or they're trippin' out. But after this offseason and how free agency worked out, I was like, All right, you gotta grow up and figure out that it can't be everybody. You were at Oakland and it didn't work out. You were at USC in college and it didn't work out. You're in Dallas the first few years and you didn't get the contract you thought you'd be getting at this point in your career. It had to be something I was doing or not doing. It couldn't be anybody else.

For me now, I've dropped all goals of where I need to be at this point or that point and stuff I was doing in the past. I'm just trying to be the best me every day and trying to get better every day. I feel like if I put the best Brice Butler on the field, it's going to be a pretty hard guy to stop. I've just been doing that and it feels good to be doing that. I'm playing free and confident and doing what I need to do to help the team win games. And it's been working out.

I have an interesting relationship with [tight end] Jason [Witten]. He's kinda like the big brother that always pushes me to be better, but we don't hang out outside the facility. When we're at work, he's always like, "Come on, man. Let's go." Or, "You're not livin' up to what you're supposed to do." Or, "You balled out but that's only one game." He's challenging me and not allowing me to get comfortable, which is what I need. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and he's pushing me to be the best I can be. It's great. I love it. Sometimes I kick it back at him, and typically, guys don't do that.

Leadership qualities. [Dak and Derek Carr] are both natural-born leaders. They're not guys you have to coach up and teach how to be a leader.

It's hard to say [who the best cornerback that I've played is] because I'm not getting the top guy. I'm not getting Patrick Peterson or Josh Norman. I'm getting the other guy and I'm doing pretty good against the other guy.

I don't even know his name. He played for the Chiefs. He's not there no more. When I was in Oakland, there was this short dude with dread. He would win. I would win. He would win. I would win. He was short and strong as crap. I remember me and my buddy Andre Holmes were the taller receivers at the time in Oakland, and we were like, "Man, who is that guy? He's good." But we didn't know who he because he wasn't a starter at the time. He was just a guy. So honestly, the guy who's given me the most fits is a guy I don't even know.

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