Last year the Cowboys learned a hard lesson about the value of Tony Romo. The starting quarterback played in just two full games in 2015 and left injured in two others. The result was utter catastrophe; the team went 4-12 in one of the worst seasons of the modern era.
Sadly, in 2016 Dallas faces another year in which Romo will miss time. They now turn to Dak Prescott, a fourth-round rookie with one of the best preseason tapes in history.
How much difference can Prescott make over what happened last season?
The combination of Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore could only win one game that Romo didn't play in. They went 1-11 as starters and had a combined 75.9 passer rating. Here were their combined statistics:
- 251 completions, 406 attempts (61.8%)
- 2793 passing yards (6.88 yards per attempt)
- 11 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
- 27 sacks allowed
Those are obviously bad numbers and they get worse if you dig deeper. The 61.8% completions is middle of the road for the NFL, but it's offset by the low 6.88 yards per attempt. That tells you, as we all watched, that the QBs were checking down and going to bail-out options and not really making plays.
Also, 27 sacks in 12-13 games is still a pretty low number. It tells us that teams weren't sending a lot of pressure, but instead sitting back on defense and waiting for these guys to beat them. Obviously, they never could.
Dak Prescott doesn't have a high bar to get over to improve on last year's backup QB play. What's more, he will get the benefit of a healthy Dez Bryant. None of the 2015 Poo-Poo Platter had that work with.
Dak has already proven that he's willing to put the ball in the air and let a great receiver go make a play on it. That's a huge difference from the kind of hesitant, low-impact play we got from the position last year.
Prescott's willingness to throw it deep will not only lead to some bigger plays but also open things up for the running game. Last year Dallas was still one of the most productive rushing teams in the league despite the lack of a passing threat. Now, assuming that Ezekiel Elliott brings even more to the RB position than Darren McFadden did, there could be exponentially better results.
What's more, Prescott's own running ability will make things tougher on opposing defenses. He can punish them for bringing the blitz as much by taking off with the ball as by lobbing it up against single coverage. Scott Linehan may have whole pages of his playbook that he can now use, or even written some new ones, because of the tools that Prescott offers.
Some may be comforted by the mere thought that Dak Prescott, at worst, can't do any poorer than the 2015 backups. That's probably true, and all signs so far are that he will at least be a moderate improvement.
In the 11 losses in which Weeden, Cassel, or Moore were the starters, the Cowboys lost by an average margin of about 8.5 points. If Prescott can add a little more electricity to the passing game and improve ball control with his running ability, that's not much ground for the team to make up.
Obviously, the season will be decided by more than just the quarterback. There are plenty of concerns about the defense, Dez Bryant's continued health, and other factors.
However, there's no denying that quarterback dominated last year's conversation and will do the same in 2016. Will Dak Prescott be a hero, a disappointment, or something in between?
We start finding out this Sunday!
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
REPORT: Cowboys Negotiating Trade with Dolphins for DE Robert Quinn
According to a report just minutes ago, the Dallas Cowboys are visiting with Miami Dolphins' Defensive End Robert Quinn today as part of a possible trade. Miami is looking for a trade partner to try to get something back for Quinn before making him a salary cap casualty.
Quinn is in the final year of his contract and is set to count $12.9 million against the Dolphins' salary cap. Most of that is his base salary of $11.8 million, which Miami is reportedly willing to pay part of to help facilitate a trade.
Robert Quinn was spotted today on his way to visit the #Cowboys, who are in trade talks with the #Dolphins for the veteran DE, sources say. Quinn would need to agree to any deal. So, this is another step in the process, with a Dallas team that obviously needs pass rush.
The Cowboys need DE help with DeMarcus Lawrence's contract still unresolved and Randy Gregory now indefinitely suspended for another drug policy violation. They signed Kerry Hyder from the Lions yesterday, but he isn't a proven commodity like Quinn.
Turning 29 in May, Robert Quinn is a two-time Pro Bowler and former first-round pick of the Rams. He hasn't had the same production in recent years but still had 6.5 sacks for Miami in 2018 and 8.5 the prior year with Los Angeles.
Ever the bargain shoppers these days, Dallas is probably hoping to get Quinn for late-round draft pick or perhaps a pick swap.
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