Dak Prescott is Ready to Dominate
From the moment he entered the NFL, Dak Prescott has been underappreciated. After stepping in for an injured Tony Romo, Prescott, along with fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot, led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the NFC. As his career continued, Prescott continued to get more negative narratives around him. From being carried by his supporting cast to being a garbage-time quarterback, Prescott has taken a lot of negativity around his career.
Meanwhile, all he has done is produce. It also seemed like the Cowboys organization agreed with these narratives as well. They dished out expensive contracts to players such as Elliot, Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith, and Demarcus Lawrence, and Prescott was franchise tagged. After missing most of last season, Prescott is now ready to dominate the league and prove his doubters wrong.
Before exiting his week five matchup against the Giants with an injury, Prescott was on a historic pace. In just five games, he had 1856 passing yards along with 13 total touchdowns and a passer rating of 99.6, which would have been only his third-highest rating of his career. From weeks two through four, he passed over 400 yards in every game and was the only thing keeping the Cowboys competitive. This stretch includes coming back against the Falcons, where they were down 29-10 at halftime. In that game, Prescott took over in the second half, and he finished the game with 450 passing yards and four total touchdowns. Over the first five weeks, the Cowboys posted over 30 points four times. They won only one of those matchups because their defense was giving up on average 36 points per game through the first five weeks.
Not only was the defense on a historically awful pace, but Prescott was also playing with a limited supporting cast. Elliot rushed for under 100 yards in each of the first five games. He also fumbled the ball three times, losing two of them. In his first three seasons in the league, Elliot averaged over 95 yards per game. He also averaged his worst yards per attempt in a season in 2020, with only 4.0 y/a. The leading receiver, Cooper, was also not fully healthy and needed leg surgery after the season ended. Most important, however, were the injuries on the offensive line. Both four-time All-Pro guard Zack Martin and two-time All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith missed most of the season with injuries and didn’t play a single snap with Prescott.
Despite all of these issues, Prescott kept the Cowboys competitive every week, showing that he wasn’t a product of the supporting cast around him. And if not for an Odell Beckham 50 yard rushing touchdown with two minutes left, the Cowboys might have won three straight shootouts, led by Prescott. Prescott was one of the best quarterbacks in the league last season before his injury and was beginning to chip away at the negative narratives surrounding him.
The situation Prescott will find himself in 2021 will be much improved than in 2020. His offensive line will return healthy, and he will continue to have one of the best receiving corps in the league. Cooper, Michael Gallup, and second-year stud CeeDee Lamb will all be on the field in 2021, barring any injuries. This is an offense that is primed for maximum production.
We also have a good idea of Prescott’s playing level pre-injury. In 2019 he posted a 99.7 passer rating, a hair higher than his 2020 rating of 99.6. He was second in the league in passing yards in 2019, with 4902, and was leading the league in yards before his injury last season. His yards per attempt in 2019 was 8.2, and in 2020 it increased a bit to 8.4. He has a career 4.6% passing touchdown rate, and a 1.8% interception rate, both of which have been remarkably consistent throughout his career. We know what we will get out of Prescott next season through the air, and even if his rushing production decreased because of his ankle injury, it shouldn’t affect his overall capabilities as a passer.
With the efficiency Prescott has shown throughout his career, along with an offense loaded with weapons, we should expect Prescott to put up great statistics. We also saw last season he is capable of putting the team on his back, and being the reason they win games. If he continues this trend, he may find himself in the conversation of the elite quarterbacks in this league. Prescott has been a top ten quarterback the last couple of seasons, but the question surrounding him has always been if he can be clutch. With what we saw in 2020, he can do so, which should elevate his status league-wide. Prescott will be entering the 2021 season with something to prove after how his previous season ended, and that should only be a scary sight for opposing defenses.