On August 25th, 2016 a meaningless preseason game changed the course of the Dallas Cowboys forever.
As Cliff Avril dragged Cowboys franchise quarterback Tony Romo down from behind, and Romo laid obviously injured on the turf, there was little reason for hope. We had all seen this movie before. A promising season ended too soon as Romo suffers an injury, and the Cowboys fail to replace him with an adequate backup. The season goes down the drain quickly, and the only hope the fanbase clings onto is that Romo will return as healthy on the next injury report.
But this time, it was all different.
Fourth round rookie Dak Prescott entered that preseason game, and was immediately impressive. He looked in control, poised, and – for lack of a better word – good. Prescott played well enough that fans could sell themselves on him “driving the bus” until Romo returned from injury. Maybe he could keep the team afloat around .500 before Romo healed up and saved the team’s season after the bye. Maybe he would prove to be just the backup this team so desperately lacked during 2015’s disaster.
Oh, did he do more than that.
As you all know, Tony Romo never started a game in the NFL again, and Dak Prescott helped the Cowboys to a 13-3 record en route to earning Rookie of the Year honors. He was magnificent, though doubters said he would never be able to top that magical rookie season where his supporting cast had fallen perfectly into place.
Fast forward to 2019, and those doubters could not have been proven more wrong.
Through seven weeks Dak Prescott is first in QBR, first in completion percentage over expectation, 2nd in DVOA, 5th in average net yards per attempt, and 4th in total EPA. He has been as efficient as any passer in the league, and is leading the top ranked offense by DVOA in all of football. Yes, more efficient than the Chiefs, the Rams, the Patriots. More efficient than them all.
Prescott has not always been this good, it’s true. He has transformed himself over the past 20 games or so. This time last year there was a legitimate argument to be made that the Cowboys should pass up paying the young quarterback, and rather look to the NFL draft for his cheap replacement. But with the way he has played since that point, and the improvements he has made in all aspects of his game, there is no argument left to be had.
Finding consistency in his footwork and throwing motion, gaining full control over the offense both pre and post snap (even if I do wish he’d go “rogue” a bit more often), improving his decision making while increasing his aggressiveness into tight windows and down the field, as well as getting some much needed help around him on the offense.
These factors have all played a part in helping Dak Prescott become what he currently is: one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Dak Prescott is going to get paid, and he deserves every penny of it. He could’ve held out for that new contract this offseason, but instead he stayed around and gambled on himself. A gamble which is going to make him a very rich man soon.
Prescott has continued to show how great a warrior and leader he is on this football team, and how important he is both on and off the field to the Dallas Cowboys. Even during the team’s three game losing stretch, where things felt lost, Prescott battled to put them in position for comeback wins.
He is yet to receive the national praise he deserves. Despite being on national television seemingly every week. opposing fans and outside analysts still see him as the game-managing quarterback being “carried” by a running game and offensive line. The numbers, and the film, say this perception could not be more wrong.
Prescott is the future of America’s Team. He will be the face of Jerry’s team for the foreseeable future.
And ultimately, if he keeps up this play, he very well might be the first Cowboys quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Troy Aikman.