Now is the time the Dallas Cowboys' focus changes and they turn their eyes toward preparations for the upcoming 2018 season. This means they start to question every little aspect about what went right in 2017 and what went wrong. One such question is what do they really have in quarterback Dak Prescott?
Prescott has had kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde first two seasons with the Cowboys. He could do no wrong in 2016 and ended up having one of the best rookie QB seasons in the history of the league. But, Prescott's poor performance of 2017 has left a lot of Cowboys Nation with a bad taste in their mouth.
Determining exactly what the Cowboys have in Dak Prescott really depends on if you're the type of person who focuses on what he has done in his first two years in the league, or if you focus more on just 2017.
It's hard to argue either, so I'll let you decide amongst yourselves where you stand. But, maybe I can help you make up your mind by giving you a few facts to chew on.
Dak Prescott as Dr. Jekyll
You may or may not remember, but Dr. Jekyll was the "good guy". In an attempt to suppress his inner demons, he created a serum in hopes of silencing the darkness within him. This is exactly who Dak Prescott was in his rookie season.
He put his nose to the grindstone and worked his tail off in order to find success, and it worked.
Prescott has won 22 of his first 32 regular-season games in the NFL. That is second-best behind only Russell Wilson (24) since the 1970 merger. He is also just outside the top-10, at number 11, in passing touchdowns (45) and passing yards (6,991) the last two years.
That's pretty impressive for a guy who was chosen in the fourth round with the second of the Cowboys fourth-round draft picks. Even more impressive is the fact Prescott is the only Dallas Cowboys quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in each of the first two seasons.
Unfortunately, Prescott may have just set the bar way too high for himself during his rookie season.
It would've been nearly impossible to put up the same kind of numbers in 2017, but that's what a lot of Cowboys fans expected. Right?
Fair or not, that's just the way things work.
Dak Prescott as Mr. Hyde
Remember, Dr. Jekyll was the good guy, but the serum he developed to suppress his demons ended up doing something completely unexpected. The serum released all the bad within him and created his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. This is how I would describe Dak Prescott after watching the way he played in 2017.
What made Prescott so good as a rookie was his ability to prevent turnovers. Unfortunately, that was one of his downfalls this season.
He threw nearly three times as many interceptions (13) than he did as a rookie (4). He also had eight games where he threw for less than 200 yards, and saw his completion percentage go from 67.8% to 62.9% this year. His yards per attempt also took a hit from 8 to 6.8.
But, he wasn't far off on his passing touchdowns this season. He only finished with one less than he did in 2016.
Unfortunately, Prescott just didn't quite seem the same this season.
It looked as if he had a really hard time reading defenses and wasn't as accurate with his passes as he was as a rookie. Of course, he had to carry the load a little more this season due to Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, but he looked as if he might've buckled under the pressure a little.
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As you can see, there are both positives and negatives to the way Dak Prescott has played his first two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. It's now up to the organization to determine whether or not they have a Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde on their hands. That's why the evaluation process is so important during the off-season.
And every single player on the roster will likely get the same treatment.
I don't know how you personally feel about Prescott, but I still believe he can be the Cowboys future QB, despite his struggles this season. If the Cowboys could've avoided some key injuries and suspensions, we probably aren't even having this conversation. But, I'm not really the kind of person who likes to play the "what if" game.
What do you think about Dak Prescott's future with the Cowboys?
Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program
Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.
After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.
Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire
While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.
It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.
Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.
That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.
But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.
Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.
For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way
In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.
This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.
A few Rams Passing Game Notes
- The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
- The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
- The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
- The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
- They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
- The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.
Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.
On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.
The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.
Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak
No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.
The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.
The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.
This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.
Cowboys Place WR Allen Hurns on IR, Promote Practice Squad Player
We all knew that Allen Hurns' season was over after the ugly ankle injury he suffered last Saturday night against the Seahawks. The Dallas Cowboys made it official today, placing the receiver on injured reserve.
Hurns' spot on the 53-man roster will go to Lance Lenoir, who Dallas has called up from the practice squad for the second time this year.
Cowboys officially placed Allen Hurns on IR and called up Lance Lenior Jr. Cowboys signed WR Brandon Reilly to practice squad.
Lenoir was on the roster from Week 10 to Week 16 during Tavon Austin's injury. He was waived and returned to practice squad when Austin came back a few weeks ago.
Tavon's health may be why Lenoir is back on the roster. The veteran return man appeared to injure himself on his 51-yard punt return in the 4th quarter. Seattle punted it one other time after that play, and Cole Beasley fielded that one.
Lance Lenoir can both return kicks and do some of what Tavon Austin provided on offense.
His spot on the practice squad goes to Brandon Reilly, a second-year player who went undrafted in 2017 out of Nebraska. Reilly was with the Buffalo Bills as a practice squad player and was on the active roster in December of that year, but didn't make final cuts this season.
He also spent time on the Detroit Lions' practice squad this year.
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