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Dak Prescott facing put-up, shut-up season in 2019

Jesse Reed
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are only going to go as far as Dak Prescott takes them, both in 2019 and looking ahead to the foreseeable future.

The big picture: Entering his his fourth NFL season, Prescott has all the tools at his disposal to take the next step. Now it’s time for him to put up, or shut up.

Great expectations: The Cowboys have put all their faith in Prescott, and now it’s time for him to deliver.

  • Jerry Jones has made it clear that Prescott is in line to sign a massive extension soon. With it, the expectations that he’ll evolve into a legitimate franchise passer will only expand.
  • The ‘Boys have brought in talent to surround Prescott, including the major trade last season for Amari Cooper, and signing Randall Cobb in free agency this year.
  • Blessed with one of the best offensive lines in football, and one of the league’s best running backs, Prescott has all the support he could hope for.

What Prescott does well: Completing a high percentage of passes and minimizing interceptions are important. Prescott has been successful in both areas.

  • 2016: 67.8 percent passer, 23 touchdowns, four interceptions
  • 2017: 62.9 percent passer, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
  • 2018: 67.7 percent passer, 22 touchdowns, eight interceptions

His 2018 season did show Prescott has potential to continue getting better. He meshed well with Cooper and at times had nice chemistry with rookie Michael Gallup.

There’s plenty more work to do, however.

What Prescott struggles with: Turnovers, pocket awareness, and throwing outside the numbers, are issues Prescott has to overcome.

  • Interceptions aren’t the only indicator of ball security. In three seasons, Prescott has fumbled 25 times.
  • Last season was Prescott’s worst, as he fumbled a league-high 12 times.
  • Too often, Prescott literally runs into pressure due to a lack of awareness and his struggles to read defenses before the snap.
  • Prescott’s struggles in this area also led to 56 sacks last year as Dallas’ offensive line took some hits in the injury department.
  • Prescott tends to need to see it before throwing it. This lack of anticipation tends to lead to poor throws in tight spaces.

The bottom line: Given what Dallas intends to invest into Prescott, he needs to take some significant steps in a positive direction. So far in his career, he’s been the second fiddle to Ezekiel Elliott, whom the offense revolves around.

Until Prescott is actually the lead dog on this offense, he’ll remain a second-tier passer and not worthy of being considered a legitimate franchise quarterback.