Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott’s expectations are enormous in 2021

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

This time of year we typically spend our time building hype for the team, and at the same time, tempering expectations for individual players. Today, we’re going to do the exact opposite for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.

Optimism reigns supreme on both fronts this offseason, but if we have to pick one to raise expectations and one to lower expectations, the directions are clear: Dak Prescott is going to a force but the Dallas Cowboys may have some issues as a team.

While Dak Prescott competes for NFL MVP the Dallas Cowboys could struggle this season.

First, the good news: Dak Prescott is going to break some records in 2021. Before he was injured last season, Dak Prescott was on track to blow previous NFL passing records out of the water. To think he did it without his top tight end and behind a makeshift offensive line, is nothing short of spectacular.


The Dallas Cowboys were beat up on offense last year. The offensive line was down to their 3rd string tackles and because of Blake Jarwin‘s injury, the starting tight end was 2019’s 3rd stringer. To make matters worse, Ezekiel Elliott was playing the worst football of his career. Not only was Zeke below league average in elusive rating, broken tackles, and yards after contact (stats that are independent of the offensive line), but he had a case of the fumbles, repeatedly giving the ball away early.

Dak still had his trio of receivers, but that was about it. Even still, Dak kept the Cowboys in games and set the league on fire in the process, pacing nearly 6,000 passing yards.

If we’re being completely honest, Dak Prescott didn’t really have a choice. The Dallas Cowboys defense was so bad it took a historically good offense just to tread water. Which brings us to our team expectations here in 2021…

Dallas Cowboys team expectations

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We’re hoping for good things from this Dallas Cowboys team here in 2021. With so many players coming back from injury, a substantial improvement is virtually a given. But that doesn’t mean the Dallas Cowboys are going to meet all of our lofty expectations. Dallas had one of the worst run-stopping units in the NFL last year. They allowed 5.0 y/c for the season and were an embarrassment of epic proportions.

The only things worse than their run defense was their pass coverage. It may surprise some to learn the Dallas pass-D gave up far more EPA per play (expected points per play) than the run defense. Teams just didn’t do it in great volume because they built leads so quickly. Dallas’ ability to cover WR2s was especially atrocious – they were last in the NFL (for more on that, see link directly below).

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Dallas is banking on the old single high system (4-3 under) to correct their linebacker issues. They are banking on free agent addition Brent Urban solving their interior run-stopping issues. They are banking on Anthony Brown and a pair of rookies to be better than Chidobe Awuzie was last year.

If Dak breaks the all-time passing record in 2021 and lead the Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs, it’s going to be hard not giving him the MVP award.

All of that is possible but none of that is a given. Any one of those things could underwhelm and we should be prepared for that. What we shouldn’t be too worried about is Dak Prescott’s ability to rack up the numbers. He’s not only an early favorite for comeback player of the year, but he’s also a league MVP candidate. If Dak breaks the all-time passing record in 2021 and leads the Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs in the process, it’s going to be hard not giving him the MVP award.

So as a early-training camp primer to our expectations, we should expect greatness from Dak Prescott. If he was that successful last year without a tight end, running game, or offensive line, think how good he’ll be with them rocking and rolling here in 2021.

And while we remain optimistic about the team itself this season, there’s undeniably a lot to fix on defense before this team can be seen as actual contenders. That’s why we probably should pump the breaks a little on overall team hype – at least until we see them in preseason.

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If the issues on defense aren’t suitably corrected, we may get some disappointing results from the Dallas Cowboys. As we saw above, Dak Prescott was operating at a record breaking pace last season and this still was a losing team. He can only do so much as an individual. But rest assured, Dak will do all he can and that offense will be on point in 2021.

  • Published on 07/25/2021 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 07/25/2021 at 11:47 AM