Coming off a career season in 2019, Dak Prescott hoped to build onto his already impressive career. Passing for nearly 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, Dak had the Cowboys primed to win the division. The quarterback in Big D has shown the ability to push the ball vertically, putting his team in a position to win any contest. Dak has consistently improved after his rookie season, which heavily leaned on the offensive juggernaut which is the Cowboys’ offensive line, and Ezekiel Elliott. Once healthy, this offense could be in the NFC East drivers’ seat while this core remains intact.
Better Days Are Ahead for the Dallas Cowboys With Dak Prescott at Quarterback
Not a Great Start
This season has been a real stinker for Dallas fans. The Cowboys started off with a loss to the Los Angeles Rams, a narrow victory against the Atlanta Falcons, then back-to-back losses against the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. Even worse was losing Dak, the sole bright spot early on, to a gruesome injury during the Week 5 win against the New York Giants.
But It Gets Worse
Prescott’s injury was followed by a carousel of atrocious quarterback play. Yes, Andy Dalton, the “Red Rocket” came in and secured the win against the Giants. Yes, he has won a few games since. However, an unfortunate concussion and positive COVID-19 test left him sidelined for a large chunk of the mid-season stretch. The Cowboys experimented with Ben DiNucci and then were blessed with a good showing and competitive game against the then-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. Nonetheless, we were blown out by the likes of the Arizona Cardinals, Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles (big yikes), and again by D.C. on Thanksgiving. Not to mention Baltimore’s “get-right-game,” they so desperately needed.
Does anyone remember the preseason hype? It was there, and it was real. Off-season moves like signing Aldon Smith and Gerald McCoy, drafting CeeDee Lamb and Neville Gallimore, previously extending and securing Zeke and Amari Cooper…this team was well on its way to easily winning the NFC East. Not to mention the front-loaded schedule, Dallas would have the momentum to make significant headway vs the easiest NFL schedule after Week 4 (7/12 teams with a losing or .500 record). Despite the Dak injury, the path to the playoffs was laid out on a silver platter.
Headed to the Injured Reserve
Most teams in the NFL have been bitten by the injury bug, but maybe no team as significant as Dallas. Big D lost Gerald McCoy before the season with a quad injury, Dak Prescott in Week 5, and essentially the entire starting offensive line: Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, La’el Collins, and Cameron Erving. It would appear that misery loves company as Dallas also lost Travis Frederick to retirement after battling with Guillain-Barre, a debilitating and progressive demyelinating nervous system disease. It’s no wonder that Dalton has been unable to form a comfort level and chemistry with Amari Cooper and company in this offense. He has lost his entire offensive line, inviting opposing defensive linemen into the huddle at the word “hike.”
The Pieces Are There for Dak Prescott and Company
Things COULD BE WORSE in Dallas. This season boasts a deep draft in many positions. While the running back crop isn’t tremendous, Dallas has been blessed by the likes of Zeke and Tony Pollard. If Dallas decides to let their signal-caller walk the upcoming quarterbacks are seemingly more than capable: Trevor Lawrence, Josh Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Kyle Trask. While that may be a harsh decision, Dallas could find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Dak’s leverage only increases with every loss this season, while the Cowboys are up against the shrinking salary cap.
The wide receiver position is also one of exceptional depth, led by Devonta Smith and fellow teammate Jaylen Waddle. One of these elite receivers could be an option if Dallas attempts to restructure or move a player such as Michael Gallup. What looks to be Dallas’ best option is to invest in some defensive youngsters. Mock drafts are leaning towards Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech, a 6’2’’, 207-pound cornerback who could help to solidify the Cowboys’ weakest unit.
With the offensive line getting healthy this off-season, Dak’s successful ankle surgery, and the hope of a top-10 pick on the horizon, Dallas fans should look to the future with optimism. Yes, the O-Line is nearing retirement and Zeke has struggled mightily this season. Nevertheless, we know who they are when they are healthy: one of the most elite units in the NFL. The notion of an old-fashioned ground and pound run game, play-action passing, and a skilled wide receiver core should have fans looking at the glass half-full in the NFC Least.