When quarterback Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys wasted the final seconds of the NFC Wild Card Game, it served as fuel for everyone who believed the team couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. As that play now lives on in the minds of many, proving as evidence this team will fall short again, Prescott has responded to the team’s skeptics.
Dallas posted a 12-5 record last season, winning the NFC East and posting its best record since 2014. Hosting a playoff game at an electric AT&T Stadium, though, the fan base could only watch as the team lost in January once again. Many wanted to see changes, starting with the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy.
It never happened. McCarthy remains at the helm in Dallas with clock management and frequent penalties proving to be issues in the preseason. Coming off an offseason that saw the franchise lose Randy Gregory, Amari Cooper, La’el Collins and Cedrick, most are skeptical regarding the Cowboys’ chance in 2022.
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Dallas is projected to finish second in the NFC East in NFL predictions with forecasts believing the defense regresses and the offense becomes far more inconsistent. The skepticism became stronger after the Tyron Smith injury, casting further doubt regarding the depth and durability of the offensive line.
When asked by Todd Archer of ESPN about the doubt many analysts and some fans have regarding Dallas, the Cowboys’ quarterback made it clear he embraces the position he is in and is ready to prove everyone wrong.
- Dak Prescott stats (2021): 68.8% completion rate, 4,449 passing yards, 37-10 TD-INT ratio, 7.5 ypa, 104.2 quarterback rating
It’s the level of confidence you’d expect from one of the highest-paid NFL players and a leader of the team. However, it’s certainly not going to diminish the skepticism surrounding the Cowboys this fall.
Cowboys need Dak Prescott to save their season, Mike McCarthy
Even before Smith’s devastating injury, there were real concerns about the roster in Dallas. Defensively, the pass rush could take a step back without Gregory and the club’s good fortune with takeaways will see regression in 2022. Furthermore, the Cowboys’ receiving corps is thinner than before and there were already some lingering questions about the offensive line and even what version of Ezekiel Elliott we’ll see this fall.
The concerns are even more pressing heading into Week 1. The Cowboys are starting a rookie left tackle, trusting a player whose issues in college will likely result in a lot of penalties in his first season. It also will make the entire left side of the offensive line worse and robs them of depth at a position where more injuries will happen during a 17-game campaign.
It puts added pressure on Prescott, asking him to uplift a receiving corps with CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup returning from a torn ACL and lots of questions behind that duo. This must all be done behind an offensive line that will be prone to mistakes in pass protection and will likely be among the leaders in penalties once more.
|Dak Prescott splits||QB Rating||YPA||Completion %||TD-INT|
|Week 1 – 6||115.0||8.4||73.15%||16-4|
|Week 8 – 14||84.9||6.5||64.86%||9-6|
The splits shown above can certainly be blamed on the calf strain Prescott suffered against the New England Patriots. However, he said it didn’t linger later into the season. Whether that’s true or not, a variety of factors influenced his regression with his overall stats during the regular season saved by a performance against a Washington Commanders defense that surrendered long before Week 15 followed by a blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles backups in Week 18.
Prescott certainly has the talent to win NFL MVP, he’s shown that in flashes throughout his career. If the Cowboys are going to make the playoffs, overcoming all their issues, the face of the franchise must play at that level far more consistently. Otherwise, McCarthy will be out of a job by early January.