With no long-term commitment signed, it’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to change their approach with Dak Prescott.
It’s official; Dak Prescott will be playing the 2020 NFL season under the franchise tag. The Dallas Cowboys missed their opportunity to lock him up on a multiyear deal and now face an uncertain future at the team’s most important position.
With the salary cap expected to plateau (or even drop) next season, and the franchise tag going up 20 percent year over year, the likelihood of Dak hitting free agency in either 2021 or 2022 is apparent. With the future unknown, it’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to change their approach.
Not only do the Dallas Cowboys need to be all-in on this season, but they need to get every last drop out of Dak Prescott along the way. In much the same way they handled DeMarco Murray in his final year in Dallas, the Cowboys need to use Prescott for all that he’s worth now, with no regard for the long-term.
Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys runner
Since entering the NFL the Dallas Cowboys have had one of the most efficient runners in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliott? Nope. Dak.
No Dallas Cowboys ball carrier has made the impact Dak has made on a per play basis. Dak Prescott, the runner, is the Cowboys leading rushing weapon in expected points added. Better than Zeke and better than Tony Pollard (and it’s not even close)
Throughout Dak Prescott’s first four years in the league, the Cowboys have used him sparingly as a runner. Looking at the history of the game it’s pretty easy to see why: When quarterbacks are leaned on to be ball-carriers, their careers are often short-lived. The wear and tear add up and even ultra-durable runners like Cam Newton eventually break down.
Up until now, the Dallas Cowboys have opted for situational use. Reserving Dak for high leverage situations, the Cowboys have saved their weapon for when it counts the most. And Dak has not let them down.
Up until now this is a plan most of us supported. Cowboys fans didn’t want to see their franchise QB prematurely run into the ground. Preserving his body for the long-term was important. But we no longer have the benefit of a long-term view in Dallas. Looking at the dollars and “sense”, there’s a real possibility Dak plays for another franchise in 2022 (it would be the smart move for him to do so).
The Dallas Cowboys need to focus on winning right now and the best chance of doing that is by using and abusing their signal caller to his absolute fullest.
This isn’t to say the Dallas Cowboys should use Dak Prescott like Lamar Jackson, either. Lamar may offer less EPA on a per play basis, but he’s the far more explosive weapon. He’s winning battles even when opponents know he’s running the ball. Dak has largely relied more on catching opponents off guard.
But increasing his rushers per game from his paltry 3.3 attempts per game to between 6-8 attempts per game would fundamentally change the way opponents face this offense. It wouldn’t overuse Prescott’s legs but rather optimize his ability.
Stopping a QB on a designed read/zone option is inherently more difficult than stopping a running back. It’s an advantage Dak Prescott offers and an advantage the Dallas Cowboys must take advantage of.
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Increasing Dak’s designed runs will open up opportunities for Zeke and Pollard as well since defenses will have to respect the added threat of Dak. As we discussed earlier this month, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to run more 21 personnel in 2020 and having a rushing QB often separates the good from the average in tis personnel group.
For years the Dallas Cowboys have telegraphed their intentions when running the ball. The only time they consistently deceived opponents with their running game has been on designed QB runs. Increasing the frequency of these runs will have a trickle-down effect on the entire offense. It will open opportunities for other ball carriers and even help out in the passing game. It adds an extra layer to the attack – a layer that’s been one of the best in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys don’t need to protect Dak Prescott for the long-haul. They only need to think about this season. That means using Dak to his fullest and maxing out this offenses potential – regardless of long-term consequences.
- Published on 07/19/2020 at 11:01 AM
- Last updated at 07/17/2020 at 07:26 AM