In a media session today, Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said that it’s more challenging to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys offense now without Dak Prescott. As the two teams prepare to meet in Week 11, what did Zimmer mean by that remark and does it really make sense?
The Cowboys have been without Prescott since he suffered a major lower leg injury in Week 5 and don’t expect him back this year. Then backup Andy Dalton was injured two weeks later, and since then we’ve seen Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert get starting opportunities.
Dalton’s return as starting QB has been confirmed for this Sunday.
Vikings HC Mike Zimmer asked about preparing for an offense w/o Dak & multiple quarterbacks this year admits it is more difficult in how you prepare. In some ways, its about how the scheme is says “they had a bye week so what wrinkles & changes are they going to make as well.”
Is there any merit to what Coach Zimmer is asserting? Are his Vikings having a harder time preparing for the Cowboys this week than they would if Prescott was still active?
It’s really a matter of perspective. There is validity to Zimmer’s statement; there’s only about two games worth of footage of Dalton as Cowboys QB in this system, and even less of DiNucci and Gilbert if they were to get called into the game.
Different passers bring their different tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses to any offense. The end result is a hybrid of that quarterback’s style of play and the system as its originally designed.
So yes, from that standpoint, Minnesota has had less tape to study and more variables to process in their prep for the Cowboys this week. There’s even less film of Dallas’ offense with both Andy Dalton and Zack Martin on the field together (Martin missed nearly all of Dalton’s two starts), giving Andy a better offensive line to help make things function.
That being said, no other Cowboys QB comes close to challenging a defense the way Dak Prescott does. No matter what issues his absence is giving the Vikings in practice and meetings this week, their job will be easier Sunday without Dak on the field.
Prescott’s versatility on the field makes him hard enough to plan for in his own right. Even a very elaborate chart of all Dak’s tendencies doesn’t account for those times he makes something out of nothing with his toughness as a runner.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys will be have to make something out of this season without their starting quarterback. And regardless of what Mike Zimmer says, that goal will be tougher this Sunday and every other week until Dak Prescott returns.