Cowboys: Dak Prescott Will Need to be BETTER Than Russell Wilson

Aug 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys have significant postseason expectations even with rookie QB Dak Prescott at the helm. How good does he have to be?

The Dallas Cowboys new starting QB, Dak Prescott, has been drawing some pretty flattering comparisons in recent days. And why not? The rookie fourth rounder from Mississippi State has been lighting it up in the preseason.

The most common comparison is none other than Seattle quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson, a former third round pick, possesses many of the same skills as Prescott. Like Prescott, Wilson is a legitimate duel threat QB defenses must respect. Both possess strong arms, athletic builds, and superior leadership qualities.

Wilson, like Prescott, was drafted with very little fanfare. But in the regular season, Wilson made people notice him, claiming the starting job, leading his team to an 11-5 record, and going to the second round of the playoffs, all in his rookie year.

The playing styles, the draft status, and the early anointment draw the obvious comparison. The Cowboys, with their playoff hopes still fully intact, pray that Dak Prescott will produce the same results as Wilson. If Russell Wilson could do it all and lead his team to the postseason, so can Dak Prescott, we optimistically tell ourselves.

While the QBs appear to similar players at face value, the situations in which they play(ed), couldn’t be further apart. This apples-to-oranges comparison of teams is what requires Dak Prescott to be BETTER than Russell Wilson – if wins are what we’re looking for, that is.

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The 2012 Seattle Seahawks had the NFL’s third ranked defense, only allowing 306 yards per game. The Dallas Cowboys are returning the 16th ranked defense (a ranking the Cowboys would be extremely lucky to achieve again in 2016). The delta between the two is enormous.

The 2012 Seahawks, armed with their dominant running attack and shut-down defense, simply didn’t need their signal-caller to do it all. In fact, often times they didn’t need him to do much of anything at all.

In 2012, Russell Wilson completed 64.1% of his passes for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. These are numbers virtually any team would take when lining a rookie up behind center. But would it be enough for a team like the Dallas Cowboys? Probably not.

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In 2012, Russell Wilson completed 252 passes. That averages 15.75 completions per game. Wilson enjoyed victories where he threw only 7 completions (ARI), 10 completions (GB), and 12 completions (NYJ). Do you think the Cowboys have a strong enough team to pull off wins with such little contribution from their QB?

When Wilson WAS asked to shoulder a bigger load, the ‘Hawks didn’t do so well. Three games (four if you count the postseason) Wilson completed over 20 passes and only one of those times did Seattle walk away the victors.

The Cowboys will likely have a similar (or even superior) running game than the 2012 Seahawks but the defense isn’t even comparable. And it’s that defense that Russell Wilson was able to lean on so much in his rookie season, keeping the pressure off him and field position always on his side.

It seemed the less Wilson did, the better the outcome.

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Dak Prescott does not have that luxury.

The Cowboys are a very flawed team. If you don’t believe that, please reference the 2015 season. That’s how good the Cowboys are without a top-tier QB leading them. In fact, look at the past five seasons and tell me which season was the anomaly. The Cowboys have talent but nowhere close to the level of Seattle in 2012.

What set Russell Wilson apart from so many QBs was his ability to protect the ball, convert third downs, and make plays with his feet. Dak Prescott will need to do all of that AND MORE for the Cowboys in 2016.

A tall order? It’s a tall order indeed, but it’s important we recognize this before we thrust unrealistic expectations on this young man – A young man who by all indications is the long-term future at QB for the Dallas Cowboys.

Exactly when Tony Romo returns (and how long he lasts) is in question but the Cowboys can’t bank on everything turning into sunshine and rainbows the day he comes back. The Cowboys need to start winning from Day 1 and to do that they need Dak Prescott playing at nearly unprecedented levels.

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Be excited about Dak Prescott. Be excited about the 2016 Dallas Cowboys. But keep expectations reasonable and enjoy the ride. Be patient because as Dink Kearney said, the Dak Prescott era has begun.