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Reel Talk: Dak Prescott Has Total Control Of This Offense

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Romo Got Dak: QB Situation a Good Problem to Have

After the 2016 NFL Draft, I took the time to review the film of each of the Cowboys newest players. The most intriguing of those players, without question, was quarterback Dak Prescott.

After watching more film on Dak than I had watched of any other college player, I felt like I was left with more questions than answers. Sure, I liked elements of his game and I loved his personality and mind-set, but there were legitimate problems evident which gave me pause.

I wondered if he had consistent enough footwork to make it in the league, or if he had the accuracy to make the necessary throws to win games at the next level.

I thought at best he could be a serviceable starter in a few seasons, but I did not think he had any real shot to win us games in 2016.

Boy, was I wrong.

While both the season and Prescott's career are still young, Dak has checked nearly every box required to prove he can be this team's franchise quarterback.

Last week in San Francisco, he took a great step forward.

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The first quarter was rough, arguably the worst quarter of his young career. Dak struggled, missing open receivers down the field, and failing to be accurate consistently. Here we see Dak roll out as Terrance Williams gets wide open on a comeback route.

Dak holds the ball too long, allowing defensive backs to start to converge on Williams. By the time Dak gets the ball out, he sails it over Williams head and gets him hit hard.

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Once again, Dak blatantly misses Williams down the field. Yes, right tackle Doug Free does get bull-rushed right into his face, but Dak should have released the ball before that point anyway.

Down 14-0 on the road and struggling more than he has ever struggled before, Dak was faced with an incredible amount of adversity. The Cowboys had to win this game, and it was going to be up to him to bring them back.

Dak delivered, and it is why we can now say he has total control of this offense.

Let's take a look.

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This throw only went for a short gain, but was really impressive nonetheless. The 49ers show blitz pre-snap and Dak recognizes it, alerting his receivers and sliding the protection.

It turns out to be a bluff, however, and the 49ers come off the other side instead. Dak immediately recognizes the change, snaps his eyes quickly to the hot read, and hits the receiver who replaces the blitzing defender.

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Remember a few plays earlier when Dak missed Williams down field as Free was pushed into his lap? Here is a prime example of what Dak can do even when his linemen get beat.

Dak is unable to really step into the throw and must get rid of the ball quickly. Despite this adversity, he remains calm and still delivers a strike on target outside the numbers. His accuracy on this play is important. If he was off target and forced the throw short or behind the receiver, it very well could have been intercepted and taken all the way back the other way.

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Once again, Dak can't step into throw, but delivers an absolute strike for a touchdown. What also impressed me about this play is how Dak was able to throw across his body accurately. On a designed roll-out, you would usually like a right-handed quarterback to be rolling to his arm-side. Instead, he rolls left, but shows no issue hitting Brice Butler in the back corner of the end zone.

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I suggest Washington sending this film to Kirk Cousins, because he couldn't make this throw once in four tries week two against the Cowboys.

Sure it ends up being incomplete, but this is perfect ball placement on a back shoulder throw. Dak allows Butler to go up and get the ball, keeping it away from the defensive back and only allowing for two options, touchdown or incomplete pass. The timing of this throw is fantastic as well, as Dak puts the ball on Butler as soon as he turns around and is ready for the ball.

Brice Butler should have hung on to this ball for the touchdown, but it is still a great throw from the young quarterback.

https://gyazo.com/d71a7b7f2a18478abda27fcc825a1bf3

This last clip isn't a touchdown pass or even a first down run, but it is incredibly important to Dak's development in this offense. He reads the San Francisco defense pre-snap, changes the protection, and flips Ezekiel Elliott to other side. Not all rookie quarterbacks can do this, or even have the power from their coaching staff to do this. You can tell that Dak Prescott has total control over the offense, and is very comfortable in it.

I have no doubts that Dak will continue to improve this week against Cincinnati, and I can't wait to see what the future has in-store.



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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Bobby Bermea

    October 9, 2016 at 2:23 am

    Love the piece. Good insight.

    DAAAAK!!!!

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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