Dallas Cowboys: Is the heat starting to affect Dak Prescott?

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Pressure can bust a pipe, or it can help create diamonds. While I’m confident Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott can afford his fair share of colorless diamonds, the pressure he is going to be under in the 2023-2024 season has me wondering if fans should expect busted pipes.

Dak has been one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL over the last two seasons. With his contract, he opened the door to being one of the more heavily scrutinized players in the NFL. To be fair, he has stood strong, said and done all the right things. For that, I have the utmost respect for him.

Going into his eight NFL season, the question becomes – Is Dallas Cowboys QB1 Dak Prescott an over-scrutinized player or just under appreciated?

However, this is competitive sports and a return on investment is what Jerry Jones is waiting for, not fairness. One could argue despite Dak’s salary, the front office has held their side of the bargain. Over the last two seasons, Will McClay and his scouting team has found talent where no one else was looking. They’ve built a roster that most ‘elite’ quarterbacks could win with.

Yes, the Amari Cooper trade was a blunder, but that excuse is now null and void with a healthy Michael Gallup and the addition of Brandin Cooks.  The combination of Tony Pollard/Ronald Jones/Malik Davis or Rico Dowdle will at a minimum keep speed in the backfield. The defense has filled some holes and is expecting another elite season. That leaves us with the quarterback.

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Here’s the good. In the regular season, Dak is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. In the playoffs, Dak has produced solid stats – he has a 92.3 quarterback rating, 1559 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions in six games.

Now here’s the bad. In those six playoff games, Dak is 2-4. It’s not just the record, but it’s the miscues that occur at the worst possible times that helped create that record. Obviously, the 49ers playoff game this past postseason stands out like a sore thumb. I understand it feels like Dak cynics continue to beat that drum but without those turnovers Dallas may have been looking at a showdown with Philadelphia.

Say what you will, but the pressure Dak is feeling is becoming more and more noticeable by the day. In a recent interview, he made reference to the level of urgency to win deep in the playoffs and was quoted as saying “It’s now or never”.  The walls are closing in on Dak and watching his long-time backfield mate get shown the door has made him see reality for what it really is.

The misdirection(excuses) from Dak supporters may begin to fall on deaf ears if this team doesn’t go deeper in the playoffs. Dak’s support system continues to dwindle. No more Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, Kellen Moore and Doug Nussmeier. All that is left is the weirdly arranged marriage between the quarterback and Head coach Mike McCarthy.

If the season doesn’t go as planned, he’ll outlast McCarthy. But will he outlast another head coach? Time will tell. Jerry seems intent on giving Dak a new contract. Maybe that new contract should be a reward for a deeper playoff run.