Heading into the 2018 NFL season, there are many guys in the Dallas Cowboys organization with a lot to prove from the coaching staff down to the players. When you look at the players, you have veteran guys like Dez Bryant and Byron Jones. Then, you go to the younger players like Jourdan Lewis, Jaylon Smith, Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie.
None of those guys I just mentioned have more to prove than Dak Prescott in 2018. After an incredible 2016 season, Dak looked more like a fourth-round quarterback in 2017, especially the second half of the season.
His accuracy and decision making both took a hit in 2017. There were many factors that played a part in his regression. He lost arguably the best running back and left tackle in the NFL midway through the season for an extended period of time. His coaching staff left him out to dry in Atlanta when Chaz Green had one of the worst games an offensive lineman has ever had. That game stuck in the back of Daks mind the rest of the season, in my opinion.
Why is 2018 important for Dak?
There are multiple factors as to why Dak needs a bounce-back season in 2018. He is entering his third year in the NFL, which for quarterbacks is considered the most important.Defensive coordinators adjusted to Dak in 2017. The adjustment they made was to take away his safety blanket, Cole Beasley and force Dak to throw down the field and beat them that way. That proved to be a task that Dak could not handle in his second NFL season. Now, it’s time for Dak to adjust.
Dak is also in a position where 2018 will go a long way into the Cowboys long-term thinking. Do they feel comfortable making Dak one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL? Do they need to draft another quarterback? Or do they need to get a look at Cooper Rush potentially? Since Dak was a fourth-round pick, he is only under contract for four seasons without the fifth year option.
Which version of Dak is the real Dak? 2016 or 2017
During the final eight games of 2017, Dak had just eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. That stretch coincided with Zeke and Tyron going out. It was the worst stretch of offensive football in Cowboys history, where the offense didn’t score a touchdown for three straight games.
To me, I still lean more towards the 2016 version. I believe in Dak. Before Zeke and Tyron went out, the Cowboys had scored 30+ points in six straight games and Dak had 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
In Minneapolis, Dak was asked what he thought a “Dak friendly” offense looks like in an interview with USA today. While the Cowboys didn’t reveal what that meant exactly, their third-year quarterback knows.
“I think it just means if you watch a little bit of maybe what the Panthers are doing or what the Chiefs did, just the RPOs, the run-pass options, just allowing me to use my feet more if necessary. Allow me to go out there and be more comfortable in everything I’m doing.”
It’s fair to say Dak has to make better reads, but it’s also fair to say that the coaching staff must get more creative with the play calls instead of just relying strictly on talent. Multiple players on the offensive side of the ball have said defenders are calling out their plays before the play happens.
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