Dallas Cowboys need a much improved Dak Prescott in 2018


If the Dallas Cowboys are to ever return to the promised land, they will need a much better version of Dak Prescott than the one they saw in 2017.

You need not look any further than next Sunday’s Super Bowl to see what the Dallas Cowboys need to be successful.

Make all the jokes you want about Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles but be real as well.  Foles has been superb in his two playoff games so far.  Completing 75% of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions, Foles is balling out.

While you may think this is a flash in the plan, Foles has been successful at times throughout his career.

From 2013-14, Foles was a starter in Philadelphia for 18 games.  The Eagles were 14-4 in those games.  Foles completed 62% of his passes, averaged 280 yards passing per game and threw 40 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions.

You really cannot ask for more from the quarterback position than that.

On the other side is Tom Brady, otherwise known as arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.  New England’s unbelievable run of success in the last 17 years starts and likely will end with #12.

Getting to and winning the biggest game of the year relies heavily on the play of quarterback.  In fact, here’s a list of the past ten Super Bowl winning quarterbacks:

Tom Brady (2)
Eli Manning (2)
Peyton Manning
Russell Wilson
Joe Flacco
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Ben Roethlisberger

Aside from Joe Flacco and maybe Russell Wilson, the rest will all have bronze busts in Canton, OH when they retire.  Flacco, while being an outlier, follows the Foles mold of excellent play at just the right time.

During Flacco’s postseason run, he threw 11 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions.  Baltimore’s postseason scoring jumped up an entire touchdown from their regular season production, thanks in large part to the play of their quarterback.

All of this is extremely relevant to the Dallas Cowboys and their hopes of ever returning to play for their sixth ring.  Simply put, they need a much better version of the Dak Prescott they had in 2017.

Prescott’s passing yards and touchdowns were actually quite similar in 2017 to his rookie season. His accuracy and decision making, however were not.  Prescott’s completion percentage was five points worse in 2017.  He also threw nine more interceptions than he did in his rookie campaign.

While some of that can be the fault of injuries to his left tackle and a suspension to his star running back, a lot of it is on him.

When you’re a quarterback in the NFL, there is a certain expectation level that must be met.  No one wants to hear excuses, in large part, because the adulation you receive when you succeed is equally overblown.

Dak, very simply, had a bad year, regardless of statistical output.  His accuracy issues not only hurt the passing game, it may cost a prominent receiver his role in Dallas.

There is no excuse for Prescott and Dez Bryant to be so horribly off when it comes to chemistry on the field.  Peyton Manning worked relentlessly with his wide receivers in the offseason to know every little nuance.  Brady seemingly loses a big play target or top possession receiver every year and keeps trucking.

Is it fair to compare Prescott to those two?  Maybe not, but the point is that it’s time for Dak to step up and be a true leader.  He needs to take ownership of the problem publicly and privately work with Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and the other receivers to take the next step.

The Dallas Cowboys will almost certainly lean on their run game as the primary method of attack.  With this offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott, that should be enough to make several playoff appearances.  In order to win in the postseason, however, they will need Dak to be significantly better.

Next: Why defensive line is the top priority in Dallas

Prescott’s throwing issues can be fixed with tireless effort and the proper coaching.  His leadership skills can only be improved by his own desire to be in the same breath as the list above.

What he chooses to do about both this offseason will likely tell the story of the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.