The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we'll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.
Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven't really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.
The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It's pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn't suit Prescott.
It's time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn't something that will happen overnight.
The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.
Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.
Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.
The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers' development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven't benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers' coming-out party.
We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.
Defenses decided to take Prescott's favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant's way, making it difficult to get him the ball.
The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.
And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.
Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.
That's why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.
Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that's pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.
Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He's a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.
Gathers' sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.
There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can't find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers' unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that's not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.
If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.