Dak Prescott endured a “sophomore slump” in his second season under center in 2017. Can he bounce back in 2018?
We all watched Dak Prescott burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2018, throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and just four interceptions, en route to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. His stellar play led many to believe that he was the next great quarterback in Dallas, and that he could potentially right the ship for the Cowboys’ postseason woes during the Tony Romo era.
NFL (@NFL) February 5, 2017
However, that potential remained unrealized through 2017, as Prescott’s play suffered a severe regression, due in part to Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension. Now, with Elliott back in the lineup, barring any unexpected additional suspensions, can Prescott bounce back in 2018 and re-stake his claim as an elite signal-caller in this league?
Why Prescott Will Rebound
Ezekiel Elliott Is Back
As previously stated, Prescott’s success rate evidently relies heavily on Elliott’s availability. When Elliott has been on the field, Prescott has undoubtedly been a top-tier quarterback, averaging 232.3 passing yards per game while posting a 40-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
NFL (@NFL) July 29, 2018
The good news for Cowboys fans is that ‘Zeke is atop the depth chart for the beginning of training camp, and should he play all 16 games, it’s likely that this dominant quarterback/running back duo returns to their 2016 form that yielded a 13-3 record and an NFC East title.
NFL (@NFL) July 30, 2017
The Return Of A Young, Healthy Offensive Line
Moreover, the Cowboys also return Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins, who have arguably surpassed the rest of the NFL as the league’s premiere offensive line. Furthermore, they drafted guard Connor Williams out of Texas in the second round of the 2018 draft.
I asked Connor Williams about Ezekiel Elliott’s tweet to him, announcing he’s going for the rushing title again. He answered with his thoughts on playing with Tyron Smith and this “known” #Cowboys offensive line. pic.twitter.com/FKib4fykzl— Sean Martin ✭ (@SeanMartinNFL) April 28, 2018
In a run-first offense, it’s crucial to have a young, elite, and reliable offensive front. This is one of the younger ones (all are 27 or younger), and definitely one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. They should have no issue in allowing Prescott plenty of time in the pocket to make reads and dissect opposing defenses.
Best offensive line in the league again? 👀— SportsDay Cowboys (@dmn_cowboys) April 30, 2018
[From a fan] pic.twitter.com/iqVhrZ6hdW
What Could Result In Another Disappointing Year For Prescott
Lack Of Proven Receiver Depth
Following the early stages of free agency, Jerry Jones and the rest of the Cowboys’ front office made the shocking decision to release their top target at receiver in Dez Bryant. After the additional losses of Jason Witten (retired) and Brice Butler (signed with the Cardinals), Dallas is now left with Allen Hurns (signed from Jacksonville), Terrance Williams, Michael Gallup (third-round pick in 2018 draft), and Cole Beasley.
Although they form a young and potentially talented core, Hurns has struggled to remain healthy since his 1,000-yard season in 2015; Williams has been the epitome of inconsistent throughout his career; and Gallup is, well, a rookie. Beasley, on the other hand, has been productive in his limited role, but he’s strictly a slot receiver and is coming off a down year in which he recorded just 36 catches, 314 yards, and four touchdowns.
This unproven group of receivers could prove to be a hindrance for Prescott, as he attempts to replicate his rookie season success. However, if Hurns can stay on the field, and if Gallup can develop into the playmaker Dallas hopes he can be, they should be able to fill the void left by Bryant.
Missed Time For Elliott
Should Elliott suffer an unfortunate injury or have to endure another suspension, Prescott’s play would surely take a hit. In the six games Elliott missed in 2017, Prescott’s numbers dipped dramatically, as he averaged just 191 yards per game while throwing just five touchdowns, along with a whopping seven interceptions. His underwhelming stats resulted in a disappointing 3-3 record, including three consecutive losses of 20 points or more.
STR8 Facts (@TMuhammad23) November 24, 2017
Fortunately, it appears as though Elliott and the Cowboys are anticipating a full, 16-game season for the talented back, which would likely result in a positive ripple effect on Prescott’s play in 2018.
If Elliott plays all 16 games, and Hurns, Williams, and Gallup develop into a serviceable trio at receiver, I can’t foresee a scenario in which Prescott doesn’t have a rebound season. I anticipate Prescott to develop a solid rapport with his new receiving core, and eclipse 3,500 yards and 25 total touchdowns for the second time in his young career.
CORRECT!Your overall SQ:
Your NFL SQ:
WRONG!The answer was: Answer more NFL questions »
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss