One NFL insider compares Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to a championship NBA player when it comes to his new wide receiver corps in Big D.
Year Three. That’s when young quarterbacks are supposed to really come into their own. That’s when everything starts to click. For Dallas Cowboys fans, they certainly hope that is the case for Dak Prescott who is entering his third season at the helm of America’s Team.
Sometimes, the best indicator of the future is the past. So, let’s take a look back at two other NFL quarterbacks in their third season and compare.
First, a player some have compared Prescott to is the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson. In his third season as a professional, Wilson was coming off a Super Bowl victory. And he was able to book a return trip to the championship game in his third-year under center.
Statically, there were only two major differences between Wilson’s performances between 2013 and 2014. One is a drop in quarterback rating from 101.2 to 95.0. And the other, a drastic increase in rushing yards and scores via the ground. Wilson ran for a career-high 849 rushing yards and six touchdowns in Year Three, 310 more yards and five more scores than the season prior.
Another former quarterback Prescott is often compared to is the late, great Steve McNair. Originally the third overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers, McNair started just four games his sophomore season in the league. In 1997, his third season, he took over as the full-time starter for the newly-relocated Tennesse Oilers.
McNair racked up 2,665 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on a near career-low 52.0 completion percentage that year. As a 16-game starter, he led the Oilers to an 8-8 record. McNair would eventually lead the Titans to the Super Bowl just two years later posting similar numbers.
In Year Three, Wilson became more of a running threat than any other time in his entire career. McNair got his first real shot at being the Oilers starter under center in his third season as a pro and played a very conservative style that eventually led his team to the Super Bowl.
Being a more mobile quarterback and playing with a conservative style are certainly two things that have been heavily-discussed topics about Prescott’s game during his time in Dallas.
But one NFL insider believes now, more than ever, Prescott is set up for success. Even going as far as comparing him to an NBA player with a championship pedigree.
"“With the quarterback intent on getting the ball to the first receiver to come open — instead of force-feeding it to [Dez] Bryant — the Dallas’ offense could look like a ball-movement NBA squad with No.4 playing point guard,” wrote Bucky Brooks for NFL.com. “Considering the Golden State Warriors’ success with that approach, the Cowboys could see [Dak] Prescott channel his inner Steph Curry while directing a retooled offense in 2018.”"
First things first, if Prescott is Curry than Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is LeBron James in this scenario. This is a run-first offense in Dallas. And if last year proved anything, it’s the fact the Cowboys will likely go only as far as Zeke can carry them.
Secondly, the Cowboys passing offense is secondary to the run game. Sure, Prescott no longer has an obligation to get the ball to one player, although Dak would argue you want to give your best playmakers opportunities to make said plays. But I’m not sure anyone is comparing receivers like Terrance Williams and Deonte Thompson to Warriors like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
So, like the Golden State Warriors, seemingly Prescott has options to spread the ball around. But the talent level is suspect and unproven.
As for Prescott upping his game in Year Three, although his numbers sagged in Year Two, Dak did show signs of growth early on. If he continues on that trajectory, and he has Elliott behind him all 16 games, there is a very good chance we’ll see much better numbers from the soon-to-be 25-year old passer.
Like the famous point guard from the Warriors, who have won three NBA championships in the past four years, Prescott will have a chance to pass the rock to several different targets. But channeling his inner “Curry” is more about winning games than filling the stat sheet. Dak and company need to find postseason success.
As a secondary offensive option, the Dallas Cowboys seem to have “good enough” talent to get the job done at wide receiver. Regardless, I believe most Cowboy fans would settle for a group of role players who can simply get open on a consistent basis and make clutch catches when their number is called.