Written by: William Heiges II
Dak Prescott has been at the forefront of the minds of Cowboys fans since he became the team’s starter in 2016, his rookie season. Let me say that again: his rookie season. The Cowboys are a franchise that always has the spotlight on it because of its history, market value, and prominent fanbase, meaning Dak will have to realize that his every move will be monitored. His achievements, failures, and impact on team success will always be a topic of conversation amongst analysts and fans alike– the simple consequences of wearing the mantle of starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. After an incredible first year performance was followed up by a decline in most statistical QB categories, not to mention a drop in wins and no playoff appearance, everyone wants to know what we’ll see from Dak in his third season.
In understanding what to expect from Dak this upcoming season we have to look at what has happened so far in this current offseason. Ideally, when a QB loses their star wideout and Hall of Fame tight end, many fans and followers of the sport would assume that he will have another down year with similar numbers to the previous season, if not even worse. Oddly enough, I feel that the loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, two of his more often targeted receivers, won’t be as detrimental as some may think. Dak is an up-and-coming player who has the makings to be great, but his regression this past season cannot be attributed to him alone. Losing a star running back to suspension and left tackle to injury, much less two players that are among the best at their respective positions, will definitely make life hard for a guy that fed off their successful play in the year prior. Having Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith back and healthy will improve the niche of the offense and make life easier for Dak.
Another reason that Dak will take a step forward this upcoming year is the changing dynamic of the offense. Dallas has spent the past 3–4 years making one player, Dez Bryant, the focal point of its passing attack with other individuals playing solid roles or contributing in some capacity. Not anymore. Dez was simply not matching the level of production he had with Dak’s predecessor, Tony Romo, and he was not performing like an elite wideout anymore which often messed up the passing game last season. In moving past Dez and having a committee approach with the wideout group, Dak will be able to spread the ball around and teams won’t assume that he is targeting only one guy most of the time anymore. Bringing in new faces with free agent signee Allen Hurns and their draft pick from the 3rd round, Michael Gallup, will give the offense a fresh look that isn’t heavily reliant on one or two individuals. Also, don’t sleep on the most recent acquisition, Tavon Austin, having a prominent role with the offense to help Dak’s game improve.
Getting some familiar faces back in the lineup and adding new talent to the offense, coupled with brand new skill position coaches, means that Dallas is acknowledging that Dak is their guy. Tailoring the offense to his strengths and finding ways to minimize mistakes made in the past with adjustments and play calling will all contribute to Dak taking a step forward this upcoming season and improving his confidence. It might not show up on the stat sheet, as the Cowboys are a run heavy team and have lost some firepower in the pass game, but we will see some changes in the way Dak approaches the game for the better. Ignore all the rumors and general ideas that may come out saying Dak just had a lucky first season or he’s mostly a game manager; the guy can flat out play. And if Dallas gives him the right players and coaching improves from the lackluster moments of last year, this guy will be a league MVP candidate someday.