There are few positions in the NFL that inspire as much debate as the quarterback position does. Begin talking about the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and everyone from local to national fans and media will have an opinion on the signal-caller for America's Team. That's the enviable (no seriously) position that Dak Prescott finds himself in.
Dak Prescott is easily the most debated athlete in professional sports and the opinions range from “he's a top-five quarterback” to “the Cowboys will never win anything with Prescott.” To give those who are detractors credit, there have been times in Prescott's young career when things haven't looked very good. Whether it's the final half of 2017 after losing Tyron Smith to injury and Ezekiel Elliott to suspension or the first half of 2017 when the offense struggled as a whole with no legit threats on the outside.
In 2019, Dak Prescott had a career year as a passer. He set career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns while finishing in the top five in the NFL in QBR. He showed a much improved passing effort and was asked to shoulder the load on several occasions after slow starts on both sides of the ball.
That 2019 season, though disappointing as it was, sets the stage for another career year for Dak Prescott. This time, however, the Cowboys will have a lot of wins to go with it.
Here are three reasons Dak Prescott will win the 2020 Most Valuable Player Award
While the coaching staff saw a lot of turnover after Mike McCarthy was brought in to replace former head coach Jason Garrett, the two most important positions on the offensive staff saw some continuity. Kellen Moore was retained as offensive coordinator and Mike McCarthy gave him the keys to the offensive playcalling. Doug Nussmeier, who had spent most of his career coaching quarterbacks before spending time on Garrett's staff with the tight ends, moved over to be the quarterbacks' coach under McCarthy. So, though he hasn't coached Prescott, Nussmeier and Prescott have a relationship and have communicated in the past.
Communication is key for an offense. The return of Kellen Moore allows them to build off of what they did in 2019 and hopefully clean up some things that didn't go well, like the slow starts in several games.
Prescott and the Cowboys will deploy an offense that has four of five offensive linemen returning. The one hole that needs to be filled will either be filled by Center Joe Looney who helped the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs in 2018 or the 2019 Remmington Award winner for College Football's Best center, Tyler Biadasz. Having that kind of continuity on the offensive line is priceless.
Back in 2018, the Cowboys were dealing with two new starters on the offensive line and they didn't quite take to Paul Alexander's coaching techniques. After they made a change at offensive line, it started to gel and in 2019 La'el Collins was arguably the best offensive lineman on the team. Connor Williams is a better player now than he was then and there's also some competition for him, which should raise his game or provide an upgrade at left guard.
At wide receiver, the Dallas Cowboys return two 1,100 yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. The depth chart will likely remain the same guys Prescott has been throwing to over the last couple of years unless Aaron Parker or Jon'vea Johnson can breakthrough in training camp. Though they have to replace Randall Cobb who had more than 800 yards receiving in 2019, they did so with the number one receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft in Cee Dee Lamb.
And though they are replacing future Pro Football Hall of Fame Tight End Jason Witten with the less experienced Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys got more athletic and more dangerous in the passing game. Jarwin can stretch the defense down the field and can make things happen after the catch.
The Cowboys aren't 100% intact from their 2019 roster, but they have a shot to be even more dangerous than they were last year.
Kellen Moore Unleashed
To call Jason Garrett a conservative head coach might be an understatement. Though I was a supporter of his years in Dallas, even I grew weary of the Dallas Cowboys head coach playing things too close to the chest. In bringing in Mike McCarthy, the Dallas Cowboys brought in a head coach that matches the aggression that Kellen Moore wants to bring to offensive football.
If you remember back to when Kellen Moore was coming out of college, he spent time with Jon Gruden at his Quarterback Camp. During their film session, Moore revealed that they ran a lot of 4-Verts concepts, which basically put four players in patterns that went down the field.
As we saw last year, when the Cowboys had three wide receivers average more than 15 yards per reception, Moore wants to push the ball down the field. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a disconnect between the head coach and the offensive coordinator, but that wasn't the only reason things didn't work out. Moore had some growing pains himself.
Play sequencing and scripting at the beginning of games was definitely a struggle for the Cowboys. Typically teams script the first 15 offensive plays of the game, but it was generally in those first 15 plays where the Cowboys offense struggled the most. Once they got into the groove of the game, they were much better, generally from the second quarter on.
Kellen Moore is obviously a bright mind, we've been hearing so for years. But every coach is going to have things they can improve on, especially one that had been a coach for just one year prior to taking on his first play-calling job.
Moore not only gets the benefit of offensive continuity that Dak Prescott gets, but he also gets the added benefit of having a head coach that has an aggressive mindset as well.
Return of the Dak
The thing that's been evident about Dak Prescott dating back to his days at Mississippi State is the intangibles. Those things you can't measure on a stat sheet or put your finger on when your watching technique and play progression. They're the things that happen between the plays, on the sidelines, in the locker room, in the film room, and on the practice field.
When you consider the intangibles that Dak Prescott brings to the table you start to get a fuller picture of why many consider him a top 5-10 quarterback in the NFL. The scary thing is, that at only 27 years old, he hasn't reached his peak yet.
Arguably, the most important intangible that comes with Dak Prescott is his resiliency. His ability to shrug off adversity and continue moving forward. It's how he was able to be a fourth-round draft pick, start fourth on the Cowboys quarterback depth chart, be inserted into the starting lineup due to injuries and find success during his rookie season. It's why, even after the debacle of the Atlanta Falcons game
From what we've seen since the day Dak Prescott entered the NFL, is that he will continually grind to get better at his craft.
Every season he’s come back and been a better passer. All of it culminating in his tremendous 2019. As I mentioned, he’s just 27 years old. He’s entering the prime of his career and with 67 NFL starts, he’s got a plethora of experience to continue to build from.
The Dallas Cowboys are in prime position to take the NFL by storm in 2020. And when they win a lot of games in Kellen Moore’s aerial attack, Dak Prescott will be the big reason they do so.
Even as good as Dak Prescott was last year, he knows he and the offense left points on the field too many times in 2019. And that’s why Dak Prescott will take another step forward in 2020. Because he’s never satisfied with what he’s done and always looking to improve.
Everything this season points to being Dak Prescott’s best season yet and when the Dallas Cowboys’ offense is among the league leaders and they are one of the best teams in the NFL, it will end with Prescott being awarded the 2020 NFL MVP.