Dallas Cowboys: How Dak Prescott proved he’s a franchise quarterback

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Landon Collins #21 of the New York Giants tries to grab Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Landon Collins #21 of the New York Giants tries to grab Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Dak Prescott’s performance in the Dallas Cowboys’ win over New York illustrated how his skills really do translate into being a franchise quarterback

Dak Prescott is a polarizing individual around Cowboys Nation. The third year quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys had the unfortunate task of replacing a local legend, Tony Romo. In fact, Prescott’s rise led to a premature retirement for Ol’ No. 9. The resentment is understandable, I suppose.

As we all know, Prescott’s first 24 games were brilliant. His first 24 games were arguably better than any other player’s first 24 – ever.  But he crashed back to earth the last eight games of last season, causing many to believe he’d been exposed and was barely a bus driver, let alone a franchise arm.

His poor start in week one against Carolina, did little to dispel the “exposed” theory. This past week, support of Prescott had been tepid at best. Even his biggest fans started entertaining the idea that Prescott may ultimately be just an average quarterback in this league (under these coaches).

But then Sunday Night Football happened.

No one’s going to consider the New York Giants a measuring stick in this league. They appear to have the inside track on a top-3 pick in the NFL Draft next April. But they provided Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff a platform in which to test their formula. And that formula appears to be a means to success in the NFL

Why Dak Prescott is a franchise QB

The week one deacle in Carolina taught us a few things:

  1. It taught us Dak Prescott isn’t Tony Romo.
  2. It also taught us Cam Newton isn’t Tony Romo.
  3. And it showed us that you don’t have to be Tony Romo in order to win.

Cam Newton is a pretty good blueprint for the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott to follow. As discussed immediately following the loss, the passing statistics were nearly identical between the two QBs. It was the rushing stats that divided them. Cam executed a handful of designed zone-read plays were he was the ball-carrier. Dak did not.

When the Carolina running backs couldn’t find success on the ground and Cam Newton couldn’t move the ball through the air, Cam became a ball carrier. It moved the ball, scored the points, and led to more opportunities for those that were once stagnant.

In short – it won the game.

Dallas had all the same issues only without that one simple solution.

Implementing the Blueprint

Fast forward to Sunday Night Football and we saw Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense implement that solution Cam and the Panthers taught us the week prior. Dak Prescott’s passing stats against NY were largely on par with what he’d been doing. But his ability and execution running the ball made it one of his best overall performances.

Note: Dak dropped a dime to Michael Gallup along the sideline that Gallup dropped. The incompletion in the end zone to Rico Gathers wasn’t as bad as first thought – Gathers got hung up on his break and Dak was pressure to throw the ball a little early. These two plays could have easily worked and would have made Dak’s passing stats gaudy. 

The running element forces teams to play the Dallas Cowboys differently. It forces them to respect Dak as a runner and not just key in on Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas Cowboys even peppered in a couple RPOs to make the defense respect the pass. All of these “option” elements, force teams to be reactive rather than active. It forces defenses to divide their resources and play the Cowboys honestly. Best of all, it plays to the strengths of Dak Prescott.

While Dak may not be as physically dominant as Cam Newton, he makes up for it in decision making. Dak is learning to avoid the big hit and he rarely turns the ball over. This is a sustainable model for success as long as the coaching staff just sticks with it.

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Cam Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015 so it’s not the read-option/ zone-read is unproven. As long as you’re not a one-trick pony, it can be an extremely difficult attack to stop. Cam has averaged 39.8 yards rushing per game over his career. Dak Prescott picked up a modest 45 yards on the ground last week.

Factoring in Dak Prescott’s ability to run through his progressions and avoidance of turnovers and you have a dangerous quarterback capable of taking a team to the Super Bowl. You have a franchise quarterback.

If you’re waiting for Dak to play like Tony Romo or any other traditional pocket QB, you’re going to be disappointed. Dak Prescott is not that player. Frankly, he’s not even all that similar to Cam Newton either. But he what he shares with Cam (the running ability) is what sets him apart from so many others we’re unsuccessfully trying to compare him to.

Passing ability – Dak is just a guy. It’s running ability that sets him apart. Mixing the two in just the right way makes him a very dangerous franchise weapon. The Dallas Cowboys seem to finally understand that. Now it’s up them to consistently implement it.

Next. How Tavon Austin is the missing piece. dark

Passing stats didn’t tell the story about how good Dak Prescott was last week. His ability to safely and effectively move the ball with his feet is so often underrated in player evaluation. Dak proved he has the skills to be a franchise QB, it’s just up to the coaching staff to keep it going.

  • Published on 09/18/2018 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 09/18/2018 at 12:02 PM