The Dallas Cowboys have surrounded quarterback Dak Prescott with talented receivers. And his stats prove team shouldn’t rush to offer a contract extension.
Previously, I called out Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin for never meeting the performance expectations of being a first round draft pick. In 2019, the Cowboys will be featuring a receiving corp of Austin, 2015 and 2019 first rounder Amari Cooper and 2011 second rounder Randall Cobb. In addition to the ultimate quarterback safety blanket – tight end Jason Witten. The weakest statistical link is Austin, but overall – this is definitely an above average collection of experienced, veteran receivers.
I have always wondered why the Cowboys front office never took an opportunity to pair former Cowboys great wide receiver Dez Bryant with another top talent. The most prolific passer in Cowboys history, the forever awesome former quarterback Tony Romo used his combination of passing skills to extract excellence from his receivers. A living legend, Romo was the Liam Neeson of quarterbacks – blessed with a very particular set of skills, skills he acquired over a very long career, skills that made him a nightmare for defenses.
The threat of having a great receiving duo isn’t a new concept. The Miami Dolphins did it with Mark Clayton and Mark Duper in 1984, when both receivers finished with more than 70 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards. I grew up in Washington D.C. during the Art Monk and Gary Clark era which also occurred during the 1980’s. Retired quarterback Peyton Manning had a lot of success with receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne winning the 2006 Super Bowl and each finishing the regular season with more than 1,300 receiving yards.
Once you start naming great receiving duos, it’s hard to stop. Receivers Isaac Holt and Torry Bruce of the St. Louis Rams; Randy Moss and Cris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings; and Lynn Swann and John Stallworth of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As for the Cowboys, will anyone dare mention Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper as a great duo? In 2012, Romo threw for more than 4,900 yards. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten both exceeded the 1,000 yard mark and Miles Austin had 943 yards on 66 receptions (14.3 yards per catch). I don’t consider Miles Austin and Bryant to be one of the great duos either.
It should be easy to realize what the Cowboys are doing in 2019. It’s the opposite of 2018, when the front office felt quarterback Dak Prescott could be great with an average collection of talent at wide receiver. Unlike Romo, who could magically create a 1,000 yard receiver by combining a tube of lip gloss, an acorn and old dental floss. The 2018 Cowboys passing offense was so woefully inept with subpar talent around Prescott that the team traded a first round pick for Amari Cooper.
The workhorse, diesel engine of this team is running back Ezekiel Elliott. This year, the Cowboys are giving Prescott every opportunity to put this team on his shoulders and become a franchise quarterback. Prescott should be evaluated another year, before the Cowboys sign him long term with a contract extension that might make him the highest paid player in franchise history.
There’s a economic theory behind this phenomenon that may explain everything. It’s called the: Endowment Effect. This effect means that people are more likely to retain and overvalue possessions they already own rather than acquire that same object if they didn’t own it.
In other words, because Prescott is already the Cowboys quarterback, the front office is willing to pay $40 million (a totally random number) to keep him on the team. However, if Prescott had never played for the Cowboys and was a free agent, the Cowboys would look at his numbers and conclude that he wasn’t worth $40 million a season.
The Cowboys passing offense has been abysmal. In Prescott’s rookie year, the Cowboys ranked 20th in 2016 with 230.7 yards per game. Watch out for the dramatic improvement, because the team ranked 27th in 2017 with 196.3 passing yards per game. The Cowboys ranked 22nd in 2018 with 222.9 yards per game.
Are the Cowboys going to pay money for proven production, like they did with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence? Based on the numbers, if they break the bank for Prescott at this moment, it will be solely based on Prescott’s potential.
By comparison, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes had 5,097 passing yards, 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his second year. It was Mahomes first year as a starter. The Chiefs running backs: Kareem Hunt (824 yards), Damien Williams (272 yards) and Spencer Ware (246 yards) combined for 1,326 rushing yards. Hunt played in 11 games and finished with 181 rushing attempts. Ezekiel Elliott used 304 attempts to gain 1,434 rushing yards. I should also mention that Elliott contributed 567 receiving yards.
The Cowboys should focus on running the football effectively to move the chains (get first downs) and keep defenses honest while understanding that the running game doesn’t win championships. In a passing league, running the football isn’t going to bring home Super Bowl victories. The Cowboys have had the NFL’s leading rusher multiple times without winning a sixth Lombardi trophy. It’s time to stop beating a dead horse.
The Cowboys don’t need a great running back – even though it’s nice to have one. The Cowboys simply need a productive running back. The teams winning championships have great quarterbacks. Prescott is starting the season with talented receivers to eliminate excuses. It’s time for Prescott to make plays from the pocket with his arm like an true NFL quarterback, before he gets paid like an NFL quarterback.