Dallas Cowboys: Five reasons Dak Prescott will be GREAT in 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Dak Prescott /
2 of 6
dallas cowboys
ARLINGTON, TX – NOVEMBER 30: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys gets sacked by Anthony Lanier II #72 of the Washington Redskins and Josh Harvey-Clemons #40 of the Washington Redskins in the first half of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

1. Dak’s Biggest Problem

We all know, this offense starts and ends with the offensive line. And the biggest single issue that hurt Dak Prescott last season was the offensive line. After establishing itself as the best in the NFL a season before, it crashed back to earth in 2017.

Losing two starters in the 2017 offseason contributed mightily to this, as did the ongoing injures plaguing left tackle Tyron Smith. All of this came to a head on November 12th 2017 (Week 9).

With Tyron Smith ruled out, swing tackle Chaz Green took the helm at LT. What happened was an epic failure by both player and coaching staff. Announcers referred to it as “the worst performance [they] ever saw”. Atlanta defensive end, Adrian Clayborn, would finish the day with six sacks as Cowboys coaches failed to adapt to the situation.

On the day, Dak Prescott suffered eight sacks and countless hits. He was never the same again.

When operating from a clean pocket, Dak Prescott has a QBR of 93.05, his yards per attempt are 7.84 and his touchdown percentage jumps to 5.5 percent.

Suffering from what I call, “shell shock”, Dak struggled in the pocket the rest of the season. The offensive line continued to struggle to protect him, and the absence of Ezekiel Elliott (who was serving suspension) kept the onus on him and him alone.

Dez Bryant and the receiving corps did little to help and what followed was the worst three game stretch in recent memory.

What happened was clear: Without the fear of the deep ball, opponents packed the box, daring the Dallas Cowboys passing game to beat them. The limited pass protection, combined with the inability of the receivers to separate, kept Dak from finding rhythm.

Rhythm may not sound important but it’s something most young QBs lean on heavily early in their careers. Dak, one of the better passers outside of the pocket, was forced by opposing defenses to stay inside. When his receivers couldn’t separate off their cut, he felt the pressure and panicked, forcing balls into places and using poor mechanics in the process.  I don’t have to remind you, it was ugly football.

What’s changed

Lucky for Dak, much has changed since last season. The offensive line has upgraded significantly and new offensive line coach, Paul Alexander, is exactly this O-line needs. He’ll incorporate a power scheme in with the zone/trap.

La’el Collins, already trending in the right direction, is expected to improve by leaps and bounds in year two of tackle. Conner Williams, another former left tackle himself, will take over at guard. The blue chip prospect was a steal at Pick 50, and looks to instantly upgrade the unit in both the running portion as well as pass-protection.

Most importantly, Tyron Smith appears healthier than he has in a while. Playing 100 percent, Smith is the best left tackle in the game. If injuries befell again, the Dallas Cowboys upgraded their infamous swing tackle position by adding former New England Patriot, Cameron Fleming, for top-notch depth.

Time to pass is the single most important thing the Dallas Cowboys could have given Dak and that’s exactly what they did. How big of a difference will it make?

When operating from a clean pocket, Dak Prescott has a QBR of 93.05, his yards per attempt are 7.84 and his touchdown percentage jumps to 5.5 percent. Over the course of 2015-2017 that’s all eighth best in the NFL! That alone should prove he’s in for a bounce-back season.

This isn’t to say he’s poor under pressure either. Actually, when passing outside of the pocket and on the move, Dak’s even better. The only thing that’s hurting him is when he gets caged inside of the pocket and faces pressure at the same time (pretty much like every NFL QB).

The Cowboys seem to have fixed all of that. Here’s something else they fixed…