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Film Review: How Has QB Dak Prescott Looked During Preseason?

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down An Outsider's View of Cowboys Training Camp 2
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As is typical for Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks, Dak Prescott has been the number one story surrounding the team all offseason. After an incredibly impressive start to his young career, Prescott struggled greatly down the stretch in 2017.

Without players like Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith around him, Prescott appeared to hit a wall, and he never really recovered the rest of the season.

Now, the Cowboys have to decide if Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future or not. And, of course, that will come down to his performance this upcoming season.

Prescott has played in four drives thus far in the 2018 preseason, clearly not a large enough sample size to draw any serious conclusions from. But in those four drives we have seen both reason for excitement, and some of the same causes for concern.

Let's jump into the film and analyze what Dak Prescott has done thus far.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Opening drive game 2. CIN brings 3rd down pressure and Dak immediately snaps his eyes outside and gets it out to Gallup. Think we're seeing some trust forming there https://t.co/Iz46yKrZ4A

Hey, let's start with the good. Dak Prescott and rookie wide out Michael Gallup are developing quite the rapport thus far during the preseason, and that continued during last week's loss to Cincinnati. On their opening drive of the game the Cowboys faced a 3rd down and three.

They came out in an empty set, but recognizing the cover one blitz look, Prescott brought in Rod Smith to help pass protect. Smith does a nice job of picking up the free blitzer, but Prescott's trust in Gallup shines through here.

Prescott immediately snaps his eyes down to Gallup and finds him on the quick slant. Clearly, he trusts Gallup to get a clean release and beat man coverage here, and his trust is rewarded with a completion and a first down.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

3rd and 10. Gallup's motion indicates man coverage, MIKE floats outside with Rod Smith and Dak takes it for a first down. Benefits of a mobile QB, play 11 on 11 and make the defense wrong. https://t.co/n5XsQqVF7K

One of the things which makes Dak Prescott so valuable is his mobility. While he may not have "Tony Romo improvisation" levels, his athleticism and mobility are even more impressive. Prescott's feet force the defense to play 11 on 11, and give him the chance to make them wrong: even when they are initially "right."

On this third down and long Prescott shows this ability off. Once again he recognizes the cover one, man coverage look. The 49ers middle linebacker is locked up with Rod Smith, and as soon as he swings out to the right, the defender is forced to float outside of the tackle box.

Once that backer flips his hips and gets outside, Prescott turns it up and runs for the first down. Plays like this will force defenses to utilize a spy or play zone coverage, which the Cowboys offense can then exploit. It's imperative for Prescott to use his legs more this season, especially on key downs like this one.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

not much to gif from this game but here's one of the better deep balls we've seen Dak throw in quite some time. https://t.co/6ECvAGilka

Later on in that preseason opener, Dak Prescott threw his first touchdown of the season. And, ironically, it was on a throw many have questioned if he can even make. The 49ers come out in a single high safety look with man coverage on the boundary.

Only rushing four, Prescott knows he can trust his protection and be patient for the downfield routes to develop.  After the snap his eyes quickly snap to the near side, looking at the near-side slot receiver's out route.

Prescott quickly works back to the other side of the field, though, and trusts Michael Gallup to beat man coverage on his fly route. With how quickly Prescott worked back to Gallup, it's fair to assume that was his plan all along, and the initial look underneath was an attempt to freeze the MOF safety.

Prescott then delivers one of the better deep balls we've seen from him for an easy touchdown.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Dak missed Jarwin twice during the 1st two drives. First wide outside the numbers then here high. Good coverage but this could've been dangerous with 22 over the top. https://t.co/4MFIdGBXXL

Now let's get into some of the not-so-good. On the Cowboys first scoring drive a week ago, Prescott missed Blake Jarwin for what could've been a huge completion. He actually missed Jarwin on back-to-back drives. First, he missed wide on a curl route. Then, on this play, he missed high after scrambling a bit.

Prescott initially looked down the field on the near-side, but the Bengals executed their cover three look successfully. He then dropped his eyes underneath, looking to dump it off to Rod Smith. He thinks better of it, though, when he notices the flat defender sitting right there ready to meet Smith for next to no gain.

I like how Prescott looked to extend the play and try to create something big, but he would've been better off taking off and running rather than trying to force it to Blake Jarwin. Prescott has the angle on the defender tasked with defending the far flat, and could've come up with a big gain had he taken off with it. Due to the inaccurate throw, however, this could've been picked off.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Bengals stay home on the play action roll out and he shoulda thrown this one into the stands https://t.co/T85T0n8Vys

Ironically, the two negative plays I've highlighted for this post include Dak trying to do too much. He's often criticized for being too conservative or dumping the ball off too quickly, but on these plays he should've taken the conservative route.

The Bengals stayed home on the Cowboys typical play action roll out here, forcing Dak to keep extending and waiting for something to come open. Clearly, nothing came open, but he tried to force the ball anyway. Prescott trusted Gallup a little too much here, and was lucky that this was only an incompletion.

Overall, despite some negatives, Dak Prescott has had a successful preseason thus far. He's been willing to use his feet, has developed some trust with rookie Michael Gallup, and has been getting the ball to Rod Smith out of the backfield effectively. While his yards-per-attempt numbers are rather low, this has more to do with play design and philosophy than it does Dak not being "willing" to create the big play.

Still, he and this offense are going to need to create explosive plays through the air if they expect to win anything meaningful going forward. Hopefully he can continue to develop a connection with these young receivers, and the offense can get back to where it was in 2016.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.

“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”

Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.

But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.

Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.

"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com

If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.

Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."

The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.

Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.



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Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.

"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein

Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?

For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.

Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.

Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.

I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.

So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.



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Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract

Kevin Brady

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Report: Cowboys Waiting Until After Season for Amari Cooper Contract Talks 1

It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.

In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.

While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.

"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.

Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.

There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.

"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.

Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.

The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.



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