As Mason Crosby’s second 50-plus yarder in 30 seconds went through the uprights in Dallas, I was already trying to talk my fellow fans off the cliff with one particular argument: “Did you see how those young guys played? The future is bright.”
Most Cowboys fans, and football fans in general, agree with that argument, especially when it is centered around now second-year quarterback Dak Prescott.
In his rookie season, after beginning training camp in a battle for the third string QB job, Prescott was forced into becoming the week one starter after now-former franchise quarterback Tony Romo’s injury late in the preseason.
We hoped that Dak could simply steer what we thought was a playoff-bound ship, and do just enough to not screw things up. Instead, he played better than any rookie quarterback has ever played before, throwing 23 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions while completing 67.8% of his passes. If his own rookie teammate didn’t just so happen to be the league’s leading rusher, Dak would be a shoo-in for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
There are some people in the football world, however, that suggest Dak Prescott’s rookie season could be a fluke. They say “well, what about Robert Griffin and Colin Kaepernick? Defensive coordinators figure guys out after their first year.”
This argument is incredibly weak in many areas, so let’s break down each one.
He Could Be Another RG3…
After bursting onto the scene his rookie season, Robert Griffin suffered set back after set back in terms of injuries. Mike Shanahan ran Griffin’s knee into the ground during the final few weeks of 2012, and its fair to ask if he could ever be the same after those grueling injuries. Griffin was out there on one leg against the Cowboys the final week of 2012, still running the read option and still taking hits. Then in the Wild Card playoff game against Seattle, on the awful conditions in Washington, Griffin’s knee completely gave out.
So far, there have been no injury concerns whatsoever for Dak Prescott. Behind the Cowboys offensive line, and with the Cowboys run-first (with their running backs) mentality, there shouldn’t be too many injuries to worry about in the future either. Of course, there is always a chance, but worrying about any slight chance of injury is not the way to view your football team.
He Could Be Another Colin Kaepernick…
Like Griffin, Kaep took the world by storm in 2012 with a dazzling running ability and a strong arm. Defenses could not figure out how to stop him, and the San Francisco 49ers rode him to a Super Bowl appearance that same season.
The narrative on Kaepernick’s career as a whole, and his current skill level has changed a ton, however.
The next season, in 2013, Kaepernick and the ‘9ers were once again borderline unstoppable, finishing with a 12-4 record and a late loss in the NFC Championship game. This means Kaep was much more than a one-year wonder, but to be honest, he is still playing quality football.
No, the team’s record wasn’t good in 2016, but Kaep played arguably his best football since that 2013 season. For comparisons sake, if Kaep was surrounded by talent much like Dak is in Dallas, I believe you’d see a much better finish for the team.
How does this all relate to Dak Prescott?
Well, quarterbacks don’t fall off the face of the earth as much as people would like to suggest. Injuries happen, coaches change, and sometimes slumps occur, but if a player has talent and remains relatively healthy and supported, they should continue to shine.
There’s Nothing For Defensive Coordinators To “Figure Out.”
While Griffin and Kaepernick ran a lot of “read option,” which was new in the league at the time, the Cowboys come at you with no gimmicks. There is nothing for coordinators to figure out. They know exactly what the Cowboys want to do. Run the ball down their throats, use their big, physical offensive line to their advantage, and throw the ball to their elite weapons when necessary.
People know what Dallas wants to do, stopping it is the problem.
Dak is in the perfect situation in Dallas. He has the full support of his coaching staff and front office, something these previous “one year wonders” did not have, he has the best offensive line in football, he has a top three running back in the backfield, and he has quality weapons on the outside.
There is absolutely no reason to believe any of what we saw from Dak in 2016 was a “fluke.” And to be honest, there is no reason to believe he won’t continue to play great football for many years to come.