This isn't a new situation for Cowboys fans, but once again it feels like how far this team goes will depend on what version of Dak Prescott we get. The defense is loaded with talent, the offense is full of dangerous weapons, and Dak just needs to put it all together.
One wrinkle, however, is that Dak's working with a new offensive coordinator now in Brian Schottenheimer. His playcalling style has been wildly different than former OC Kellen Moore's, so there could be some serious changes in the offense.
That's why Mike McCarthy's decisions to continue holding Dak out of all preseason action is an absolute blunder.
Is Dak Prescott Playing in Preseason?
Dak Prescott hasn't played in the preseason since 2019, and Mike McCarthy expects that trend to continue this year despite the big changes to the offense.
Keeping Dak healthy is obviously a top priority, because we know full well that this team won't reach its potential with Cooper Rush under center. But it's not like "we need our starting quarterback healthy to contend" is some unique trait to the Cowboys. And there's a reason that just about every other team decides the risk that comes with suiting up for at least a couple preseason series is worth taking.
The NFL offseason is a long one, and with ever-increasing restrictions around the amount (and intensity) of offseason practices, there's a real risk of developing some rust, especially when it comes to chemistry with teammates. It also becomes much harder to build chemistry with new arrivals.
This is especially true when your offense has transformed, as we're seeing in Dallas.
Dak is playing without Ezekiel Elliott for the first time in his career, he has a new WR2 in Brandin Cooks and he's going from Dalton Schultz to an unpredictable group of unproven tight ends. He's also playing in an entirely new offense after Schottenheimer replaced Moore.
Even if this just means Dak takes one or two regular season games to get fully up to speed, that could really come back to haunt McCarthy. Competing with the Eagles in the NFC East leaves no margin for error, and losing home-field in a playoff game (or even losing a first-round bye) because of an early-season loss is totally plausible.
I get being safe. Don't play Dak behind any backup linemen. Don't call the types of plays that have him sit in the pocket for a long time. Don't roll him out without protection. Have him slide and tell him not to scramble unless he's certain he can get down or out of bounds. But don't just sit him on the bench.
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