After a loss to the New York Giants a few weeks ago, many Cowboys fans and analysts were calling for a change at the quarterback position.
Fourth round rookie Dak Prescott had been great so far, leading the Cowboys to 11 straight wins and a playoff birth. But after all, he was still a rookie, and with the former franchise quarterback of the team waiting on the sideline, the pressure continued to mount on Dak.
Over the next two games, Dak Prescott has played some of the best football of his young career and has led Dallas to two straight wins over quality conference foes. Despite these performances, and a fifteen-game body of work, Dak is still going underappreciated by many.
Even as he tore up the Detroit Lions last Monday night, there were still naysayers on Twitter stating that Dak can't “read a defense,” or that he is simply a product of a great offensive line. The fact of the matter is, these naysayers are all wrong. Dak Prescott is playing his best football right now, and is arguably the very best young quarterback in the entire NFL.
Monday night, Dak put on what was maybe his best performance thus far.
On the Cowboys' opening drive, Prescott showed how far he has come this season. Facing third and fourteen after a false start penalty, the Cowboys offense was in a pickle. Earlier in the season, they tended to simply run a check-down play to someone like Ezekiel Elliott or Jason Witten in situations like this. The logic was, we are already in comfortable field goal range, so why risk a potential turnover with this rookie quarterback?
Dak has earned the right to be given a chance to make a play, however, and the Cowboys allow him to do so here. He does a great job of going through his progressions, and recognizing that Brice Butler is streaking straight through a hole in the zone coverage.
The result, a touchdown on the team's opening drive.
Despite all of his success, Dak still gets labeled as a “system quarterback.” People try to stigmatize him as a game manager, someone who could not excel to this level if it weren't for all of the excellent pieces around him.
Of course, simply revisiting how awful Romo's backups in 2015 played should refute this argument, but Dak does a good job of proving them wrong with his play as well. Here we see Dak go through his progression, remaining patient during the entire play. He surveys the field, going all the way from right to left before finding Terrance Williams open on a curl route.
Then, he sets his feet and delivers a strike to Williams for the first down.
On Dez Bryant's first touchdown catch, we once again see why those who try to discredit Dak's importance are so wrong.
Pre-snap, Dak sees that he has Dez Bryant in one-on-one coverage at the top of the screen. He also recognizes the defensive look which the Lions are showing, and checks both the protection and the routes. Not pictured, the perfectly placed throw which Dak delivers after reading the Lions' defense like a book.
Dak's prowess before the snap may not be as clear to some, but his ability during the play should be evident to everyone watching.
There are very few quarterbacks in the world who can make this throw as perfectly as Dak does on this play. With relative ease, Prescott sees that Williams is running across the field with just one defender at his back, and delivers an impeccably placed ball for the big completion.
Dak's front leg worries me on this throw, as it does on many other throws, remaining straight as he drives into it. It is a pretty ball though, and the final result was certainly positive.
We are now fifteen games into the Dak Prescott experience, and any questions about his ability to play the position, his leadership, or his “football IQ” should be silenced. While members of other fan bases may continue to talk, those who associate themselves with the Dallas Cowboys should appreciate what Dak is doing.
Our last franchise quarterback, Tony Romo, went a full ten years without being fully appreciated. Let's not make the same mistake with this QB.