They say that it takes quarterbacks three ye ars to get adjusted to life in the NFL. While others have garnered praise from the very beginning, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping Dak Prescott hits his stride in 2018. During his brief career, Prescott has led the Cowboys to a 22-10 record and one playoff berth. So with that said, has he been that much better than Tony Romo?
In his first season in 2015, Prescott led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record but flamed out in his first playoff game. In his second season, Prescott, without the services of Ezekiel Elliot, led the ‘Boys to a 9-7 mark and missed the playoffs. While many will attribute Elliott’s suspension to the Cowboys’ decline, that’s just not the case.
Elliott is a beast out of the backfield but the Cowboys still finished the 2017 NFL season with the 2nd best rushing attack in the league. However, when it came time to throw the ball, that’s where the issues began for the team. In 2016, Prescott passed for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and four interceptions while completing 67.8 percent of his passes. In 2017, Prescott took a step backward. With Elliott out. Prescott attempted more throws (490) than 2016 (459) but his completion percentage, just like the rest of his stats took a drastic decline.
With Elliott out, many figured the team would lean on the arm of Dak Prescott. However, when called upon, he looked more like Andy Dalton than Romo.
With an offensive line that has been labeled the best in the league, Prescott took more sacks in 2017 (32) than he did in 2016 (25). To add more salt to the wound, his completion percentage dropped to 62.9, his yardage fell to 3,324 and his interceptions climbed to 13. Was he forcing the ball or was he just not as focused as his previous season?
This is what the Dallas Cowboys must figure out heading into his Pivotal Year 3. There were reports that the Cowboys had Prescott study film on Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason to work on his mechanics. In order for the Cowboys to make a playoff run, Dak Prescott, not Elliott has to be the one leading them.
Remember in 2016 when the Cowboys were the talk of the NFL? It was Dak Prescott everyone was giving the nod to as the leader of this young team. While Elliott surely made his presence felt, Prescott had his finger on the pulse of that team. But this will no longer be the same team it was in 2016 or 2017.
Dez Bryant is gone and so is the ever-reliable Jason Witten. In their place will be the newly signed Allen Hurns and Geoff Swaim who only has nine starts to his name to go along with nine career catches. While adding Hurns should replace the production (or lack thereof) of Bryant, that still puts Prescott in a tough spot. He will still have Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley but when has their names ever been mentioned in primary target discussions?
This is what Jason Garrett had to say about his starting QB back in February.
“He has done a lot of really good things, but he could improve in every aspect of his game – his understanding of what we’re doing, his understanding of what the defense is doing, and how they fit together. Physically, he can get better, the way he gets away from the center, his mechanics in the (shotgun), his decisiveness, his decision-making, all of those things can get better and they will get better.”
Even with two of his favorite targets gone, Prescott will still be surrounded by talent. And if history is on his side, then this could be the season we see Prescott have that Wentz-like year. All he has to do is look around the league and see what players like Blake Bortles, Jared Goff, and Derek Carr have gone through and how they have managed to push through their struggles. If Prescott can bounce back from a lackluster 2017, the Dallas Cowboys will find themselves neck and neck with the Eagles this season.
Prescott has the arm, he can read a defense and he has the help to get the Dallas Cowboys back to the Super Bowl. But wasn’t the same thing said about Tony Romo?