Welcome to another installment of “Managing Expectations”. In this entry we will be focusing on signal caller Dak Prescott and what to realistically expect from him this season. With a cast of mostly unproven receivers and a reconstructed offensive line it would be hard to expect Prescott to duplicate his record breaking 2021 campaign however, Prescott should still perform more admirably than most expect.
Lamb and Shultz
Prescott still has great offensive play makers in the form of Ceedee Lamb and Dalton Shultz. In 2021, Lamb led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Lamb was also able to solidify his place in Cowboys mythos last year, snagging 153 receptions, the most for any Dallas player in their first two seasons. His 2037 receiving yards is also the second most in a Cowboy player’s first two seasons, second to only the late great Bullet Bob Hayes. With the departure of Amari Cooper, Lamb’s targets should see a significant increase, giving him the opportunity to flourish as the lead receiver. Shultz is also poised to have another monster season. During the 2021 season, Dalton Shultz finished top 10 amongst tight ends in yards, targets, receptions, and touch downs; fully cementing himself as one of the best players at his position and arguably in the entire league. With this two still in the fold the Cowboys still have a dynamic 1 2 punch that lead the way for the passing game.
Not the worst roster he’s played with
Despite the departures of several pass catchers this is not the least talented team Prescott has played on in the NFL. In 2018, the Cowboys started the season with a wide receiving room consisting of Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and Cole Beasley as the three starters. While Michael Gallup did see playing time his role did not increase until later in the season as the third round pick got acclimated to the NFL. While the team did eventually trade for pro bowl receiver Amari Cooper, Dak played admirably in the 7 games before his arrival despite the lack of talent at receiver. Prescott completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 8 tds and 4 ints (a 2 to 1 td to interception ratio) and posted a 3-4 record. While not spectacular the Cowboys lost two close games that came down to the wire with an overtime highlight play from Deandre Hopkins and a missed kick by Bret Maher being the only things that kept the Cowboys from going 5-2 in that stretch. While Prescott’s current group of play makers is not as deep or as talented as the one from last year they are far better than the ones he began the 2018 season with and he was still able to win games and play respectfully with that group. Prescott has also developed into a better quarterback in the four years since then, being selected as a top 50 player by his peers for this year’s NFL Top 100 list. With his improved play and his track record of performing despite the talent around him, Prescott should still be able to have a good season.
The Cowboys have repeatedly stated that the main focus this year will be to stop the run and establish the running game. If the Cowboys are able to successfully run the ball Prescott’s job will become exponentially easier. When the Cowboys rush for at least 75 rushing yards Prescott is 52-32 as a starter.
Conversely, the Cowboys are only 8-21 since 2016 when rushing for less than 100 yards as a team.
With Ezekiel Elliott fully healthy and an offensive line that was top 10 in run blocking last year, it should be relatively easy for the Cowboys to be a dominant running team if they choose so. It has also been reported that Prescott himself will be more involved in the run game than he was last year. Prescott’s 25 rushing touchdowns is the 3rd most a quarterback since 2016. While he will not be used in a manner similar to Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen, Prescott’s ability to run is a game changer that should help the offense extend drives and score.
Prescott is a top 10 quarter back who shares the backfield with a top 10 running back. He still has one of the better young receivers in football and a pass catching tight end who was top 10 himself the previous season. With the weapons around him and the play style the Cowboys will be implementing we are predicting Prescott to end the season with 4250 yards, 33 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 5 rushing touchdowns.