After posting one of the greatest rookie seasons for a quarterback in NFL history, how can Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott improve in Year Two?
Prior to last season, if you had told Dallas Cowboys fans that a quarterback would lead the team to a 13-3 regular season record after going a horrendous 4-12 the year before, they would have likely thanked the football gods for the return of Tony Romo.
No one had a clue that a fourth round selection out of Mississippi State named Dak Prescott would be thrust into the role under center for America’s Team and emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the entire NFL. No one other than Prescott himself, that is.
The 23-year old posted one of the greatest seasons by a rookie quarterback in league history in 2016. Recording 3,667 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, only four interceptions and rushing for six more scores; Prescott did this all while ranking fourth in the NFL in completion percentage (67.8) and third in passer rating (104.9).
After such a great debut, it’s hard to imagine what Prescott has in store for an encore. In fact, many predict a sophomore slump for the young quarterback simply because he had such an epic rookie season.
But according to Prescott’s positional coach with the Cowboys, that’s just not Dak’s style. His extraordinary work ethic won’t allow him to regress. This offseason, the Cowboys starting quarterback will get in much more work and responsibility than he did last year as the third or fourth man on the depth chart behind Romo, veteran Kellen Moore and then quarterback-turned-safety Jameill Showers.
"“Just getting more reps, getting more adept at the offense,” Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback coach Wade Wilson told Scout.com in an interview recently about the team’s offseason plan for his young quarterback. “We’ll give [Prescott] more on his plate that he can change at the line of scrimmage. Coach Linehan does a great job of playing to his strengths, so we’re going to shotgun a little bit more, do the zone read a little bit more, and he’s going to do stuff that he’s comfortable with. And I think that getting all of these reps, and doing all of these things over and over again, he’s just going to react, instead of just thinking a lot.”"
I think the keyword to focus on from Wilson’s statement is comfortable. Last year, this Cowboys offense was built with Romo in mind. This year, the focus will be Prescott. That’s an important factor to consider when mentioning any talk of a sophomore slump.
Up until the Cowboys third preseason game, all of Dallas’ game planning and even the drafting of Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was done in order to help Romo succeed under center. With all of those reps now going to Prescott and with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan shifting the gameplan to fit Dak’s strengths, this Dallas offense that ranked fifth in the NFL last season should actually improve in 2017.
Obviously, the execution of said gameplan will ultimately determine if the offense plays better or not. But can you imagine an even more comfortable Prescott under center for the Cowboys this season? One that reacts more than overthinking things on the field? One that reacts a fraction of a second quicker in making his reads and throws? Talk about scary.
If all goes to plan in Dallas this offseason, it appears the NFL needs to brace for a monster season from Dak Prescott in Year Two.