Dallas Cowboys: Third year will be a charm for Dak

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

After having a successful rookie season, Dak Prescott had a perceived sophomore slump, but the third-year signal caller will prove his critics wrong.

Depending on how you perceive Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, you either believe he’s the franchise quarterback for the next 10 years, or you believe 2018 is a make or break season for him.

Those in the “make or break” camp believe Dak needs to work on a plethora of things in order to be a franchise quarterback for America’s Team.

The laundry list includes several things, like accuracy, footwork, arm strength, needing a running game, more awareness, stop staring down receivers, be more like Tony Romo, have eyes in the back of your head, and walk on water.

Now, of course, I made up the last two statements, but those critics talk as if Dak has been absolutely pathetic as the Cowboys starting quarterback the last two seasons.

I could go on and on about the negative talk surrounding Dak, but I would need a three-hour sports radio show on ESPN to do that.

Then there is the “franchise quarterback camp”. This camp is full of positive minded people who believe wholeheartedly that Dak has a bright future, and is more like the rookie quarterback of 2016 than the 2017 version.

I’m in the franchise quarterback camp, and that’s why Dak’s third year will be the charm as he proves his critics wrong. Dak will prove that he’s the man to lead this franchise to its sixth Lombardi trophy.

One of the main reasons why 2018 will be a big year for Dak is because he will be a more experienced quarterback. Dak experienced the highs and the lows in his first two seasons of football, something most young quarterbacks never experience.

During Dak’s rookie campaign, he experienced the highs because he led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record, won the NFC East crown, received a first-round bye, and he won several awards, like ROY (Rookie of the Year).

Further, Dak broke future Hall of Famer New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s record for most passes (176) to start a career without an interception. Yes, that, too, was part of Dak’s outstanding rookie year.

In a game against the Denver Broncos last season, Dak improved on his rookie credentials when he set an NFL record for fewest interceptions in first 500 passes. Entering the game, Dak only had four career interceptions, all from his rookie season.

Prescott witnessed and experienced the lows last year as the Dallas Cowboys won nine games, missed the playoffs, watched his interceptions increase from four to nine, his QBR went down, he took several hits, his accuracy was questioned, he made bad reads, and the naysayers came out in droves.

Rightfully so to some extent.

Experiencing the proverbial “sophomore slump” will do more for Dak’s psyche, confidence, and overall learning curve than his sensational rookie season ever did.

Dak had to learn the hard way about life as an NFL signal caller when All Pros Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott missed several games because of injuries and a six-game suspension.

Plus, wide receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams allowed easy catches to be turned into tipped interceptions and returned for a touchdown.

Add Dez’s declining skill set, and Dallas’ receivers resembled the “Bad News Bears” instead of seasoned NFL receivers.

So Dak took the brunt of the blame for having double-digit interceptions, getting sacked eight times against the Atlanta Falcons, have the best running back serve a six-game suspension, having receivers who couldn’t catch a cold if you sneezed on them, and being responsible for inept coaching.

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With all of that negativity, Dak still led Dallas to nine victories, a 5-1 division record, threw for 3324 yards, 22 touchdowns, completed 62.9 of his passes, and recorded a 78.8 QBR (Quarterback Rating).

When you put it into perspective, that’s not bad, especially when several of his interceptions weren’t his fault. If Dez and Terrance had held onto easy catches, Dak interceptions are in the single digits. Heck, Dallas probably wins two more games and goes 11-5 and makes the playoffs.

Because of that learning experience-along with a successful rookie season-Dak understands more than ever what he needs to do moving forward. One thing Prescott learned is not to force ball the ball to your number one receiver like he did with Dez.

That hurt more than helped, but Dak learned from it and knows how to handle a former “number one receiver”. Speaking of number one receiver, Dak has never played with one because Dez no longer played like a number one receiver, and more like a secondary receiver.

But the main reason Dak will ball out this upcoming season is because he is a leader, a confident field general, and a winner. Dak has won 22 games in two seasons, thrown for 6,991 yards, and 45 touchdowns.

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With those stats and other accolades under his belt, Dak can only get better.

And that’s why the third year is the charm.