Because the NFL promotes politically correct public opinions from its players and coaches, the Dallas Cowboys receivers have a secret they can’t tell.
The NFL’s Franchise tag deadline is Monday. For the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Dak Prescott has been the player whose name has been pinned to the tag. That is if Dak and the front office fail to agree on a long-term deal in time.
Meanwhile, Prescott’s performance in the last season of his four-year rookie contract has provoked two very different parties. There are those who believe Dak’s statistics prove his worth. Then, there are those who believe Prescott’s statistics were inflated during games against inferior opponents and garbage time fourth-quarter drives.
A concept that seems to have been absent within the Cowboys organization for a long time is opportunity cost. Too often, it seems, a completion is a completion, a first down a first down, and a field goal: points on the board. A touchdown is a touchdown regardless of how it happened or almost didn’t.
Opportunity cost is the difference between the best possible outcome and the one chosen. When former Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan abandoned the running game in scoring position for three straight incompletions, the opportunity cost was four points (touchdown + extra point – three points received when settling for a field goal).
When former head coach Jason Garrett had Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb on the sideline during a fourth-and-eight last-play-for-the-whole-season against the Philadelphia Eagles, the opportunity cost was either a first down or six points or Garrett’s career in Dallas.
When it comes to Prescott, however, his receivers know all too well the opportunity costs lost to his inconsistent arm. In the latter portion of the 2019 season, Dak suffered a shoulder injury. The injury shouldered the burden of his inaccurate passing as if it had suddenly appeared. As the Boys continued losing, somehow people erased from memory that Prescott’s season didn’t begin any better than it ended.
Dallas started with a healthy Prescott and three straight wins. In those games, Dak completed 70 of 94 pass attempts for 920 yards, nine touchdowns, and two interceptions. His completion rate for the three-game span was 74.4 percent. It was a promising start to a season with high expectations. Yet, it could have been better.
Film from the first three games shows that approximately 50 percent of Prescott’s throws were off target. Most commonly, his throws were behind receivers. Yet, four of Dak’s receivers (Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, and Devin Smith) displayed remarkable ability to extend plays after catching the ball, particularly when they were hit in stride. Too often, however, balls thrown behind them hindered yards after the catch with opportunity costs ranging from first downs to touchdowns.
If not for the incredible receiving corps Prescott was provided, his statistics likely would have plummeted, and a losing season would have begun much sooner. In the first three games alone, ten Cowboys caught passes by contorting their bodies, dropping to their knees, leaping high, and slowing down to snag an underthrown ball just as trailing defenders caught up.
The season didn’t get better as Prescott failed to lead his team to victory against seven out of eight opponents with winning records. Though starting 3-0, the Cowboys finished 8-8, and Prescott’s throws were a mixture of precision and deficiency the whole way, not following his shoulder injury.
As the NFL franchise tag deadline closes in, America’s Team likely is set on tagging Prescott. Meanwhile, his receiving corps, including soon-to-be free agent Amari Cooper, know they deserve compensation for saving the young quarterback from faltering during his contract year.
Dak Prescott has continued holding out for the contract he believes he deserves, and his receivers are silenced by league expectations. Opportunity cost? No, it’s about stats—touchdowns, yards, and completions. For some, it doesn’t matter how they get them as long as they get them.