Being the Dallas Cowboys quarterback is a high-pressure job. Not that being a quarterback for any other team isn’t, but it just seems like the critique and scrutiny come more often for the face of a franchise this well-known and celebrated.
Dak Prescott knows all of that.
In his six NFL seasons, he has been ridiculed by analysts, reporters, and even his own fan base for not being good enough. Has he been the Pro Bowl quarterback the Cowboys needed? Not always. But is he better than at least 21 or 22 other NFL starting quarterbacks? Absolutely. Imagine what disgruntled Dallas fans would be saying if Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, Zach Wilson, or Daniel Jones were their pass thrower.
But that’s not the point of this article.
The point is that Prescott, after multiple years of battling various injuries, is finally healthy and the front office isn’t giving him the opportunity to succeed. He finally has a chance to prove to this fan base what he can be for this team. The 28-year-old has the go-ahead to use his legs and be a more mobile quarterback again and he’s ready to lead this squad to a potential NFC East championship (and beyond). Yet the front office has done little to nothing to boost the roster around him.
The best quarterbacks in this league have at least a decent starting line and they have great receivers at their disposal. Prescott likely won’t have either of those for Week 1 and it’s not his fault.
This offseason, the front office got rid of his favorite receiver in Amari Cooper in exchange for chump change. They let his reliable WR3/WR4 Cedrick Wilson go to the Dolphins. They re-signed a — albeit talented — WR who likely won’t see the field for at least a few games to a major extension in Michael Gallup. And, the only additions to the roster, aside from UDFAs and inexperienced players already on the team, were James Washington and Jalen Tolbert. That doesn’t even take into account the issues with the offensive line whose job is to keep the QB upright.
Tolbert is talented but has never played a game in the NFL. Washington is out for at least another five weeks with a foot fracture. Instead of hitting the panic button and trying to secure veteran help for this quarterback, Jerry Jones essentially threw up his hands and said Prescott will figure it out.
This basically leaves Dalton Schultz as a TE and CeeDee Lamb as WR1 for the Cowboys QB. To put that in perspective, WR-wise, the players Prescott has at his disposal (aside from Lamb) all have fewer touchdowns for the Cowboys than Terence Steele. Yet, Prescott is supposed to make that work against the Bucs in Week 1.
That is a lot to ask out of a quarterback. Jones and the coaching staff are essentially saying it’s on you to elevate the level of play for a bunch of guys who have minimal game experience. Here’s a direct quote from Jones after Washington went down with his injury in camp:
"“He can do that. I especially think he can do it with what we’re trying to do with Pollard or what we’re trying to do with Schultz. You know Dak’s going to take it to the right guy. … Dak’s going to go as good as anybody there is out here throwing the ball at what the defense gives you.”"
This simply isn’t a smart plan for the organization as a whole and it certainly doesn’t help the quarterback.
The Cowboys are setting Dak Prescott up for failure with the complete lack of veteran WR talent to start the season
Why are Jones and Co. not using the money they have to help this team? It’s fair to be excited about Pollard and Elliott. It’s fair to feel good about Schultz, even though he’s only technically here for a year. It’s even fair to say you have up-and-coming talent at receiver.
If guys like Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko, Jalen Tolbert, and Dennis Houston were all fighting for a WR3 or WR4 spot, that would be great! But the reality is that these young, inexperienced players are going to be thrown into the ring against Tom Brady and the Bucs when they haven’t spent enough time catching passes from Prescott. Plus, we all know at this point that this is a pass-dominant league.
Asking Prescott to elevate young players to hopefully make the passing game work is setting him up for failure. Cowboys writer David Helman clearly agrees given his recent appearance on FOX’s “Speak for Yourself.”
Helman brings up another great point, too. It seems like every other franchise, even the ones with quarterbacks clearly more talented than No. 4, seem to work hard to boost the offense around their QB.
Tom Brady has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage at his disposal. When Patrick Mahomes got screwed over by his offensive line in the Super Bowl against the Bucs, the Chiefs brought in Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, and Creed Humphrey. They saw a problem, and they fixed it. When Kansas City lost Tyreek Hill, they brought in Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The Cowboys’ front office continues to see clear problems on their roster and chooses to hope for the best with rookies or leave things unsolved. It happened with the kicking situation. It’s currently happening with the swing tackle situation. And now, they’re doing it with the WR room, too.
If this offense doesn’t succeed, it’s going to fall on the Cowboys’ QB. It almost always does. But it’s hard to see this as his fault. Helman said it perfectly:
"“It just doesn’t add up. I think it makes [Prescott] a convenient scapegoat when it doesn’t work out.”"