The Dallas Cowboys offense was really good last year. During the league’s first ever 17-game regular season, the Cowboys boasted the league’s top offensive unit under the direction of $40 million per year QB Dak Prescott. They led the league in total yards (407.0) per game, and points per game (31.2). They passed for 4,800 yards and 2,119 yards rushing. They also led the league in total points with (530).
The offense could’ve been even better if Dak’s legs had been used more often. It seemed as if the designed runs for Prescott were few and far between in 2021. Dak, once known as a dual-threat quarterback, has been relegated to a pocket passer.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said he hopes QB Dak Prescott will have more designed runs/scrambles/movement throws in 2022, now that he’s a full season removed from ankle injury. “We tried to be smart when we used him” last year. Has impressed in the spring. pic.twitter.com/VBu9Appj67
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) June 14, 2022
Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe brought that up this week on an episode of “Undisputed,” when he said he believes that’s a way of protecting Dak.
“Normally, quarterbacks, as they get older, they run less. I’ve never heard of a situation where a coach or offensive coordinator says, You know what? We’re going to design more runs as the quarterback starts to get to year five, year six, year seven. Normally, they scale that back. Steve Young scaled back, (and) all of those winning quarterbacks, they scaled that back. Mike McCarthy says, No, we’re about to increase that. Remember, it was running that got Dak Prescott in this situation to begin with.”
Dak’s Legs And Zeke Helped Him Succeed Early
In his first four seasons Prescott’s legs were the Cowboys quarterback’s best offensive weapon. In fact, from 2016-2019, Dak rushed for 1,231 yards and 20 touchdowns, with a 5.1 yards per carry average. Prescott was hurt in Week 4 of the 2020 season and seemed really hesitant to run in his return to the gridiron last season.
Based on recent history, don’t expect to see Dak running much in the future. That makes him a different quarterback, but probably gives him a better chance of having a longer career.
As a rookie in 2016, Prescott used his legs to keep defenses off balance. With fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott toting the mail inside the tackles for 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns on 322 carries, it opened up the zone read game for Dak. Teams were so intent on stopping Elliott that they forgot about Dak being a dual-threat from his days at Mississippi State.
In many cases, Dak is what many believed Tom Tebow would be, with both having played in Dan Mullen’s QB-run based system. Dak happens to be a much better passer of the football on and off schedule. Prescott was so good in his rookie season he took home the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, leading the Cowboys to an NFC-best 13-3 record.
#Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy says Dak Prescott is "clearly" more comfortable running and scrambling than he was last season.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) June 14, 2022
Prescott has gradually gotten better as a passer as well, passing for a career-high 37 touchdowns and second-best 4449 yards. Those are numbers that he could exceed if he really shuts down the run game.
Prescott Owns NFC East
In his six NFL seasons, Prescott has gone 25-6 against his division, including 12-1 in his last 13 outings. Boasting a (9-1) record versus Washington, 7-3 versus the New York Giants, and 9-2 versus the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s been a combination of his arm and legs that have been the demise of his division opponents. In his five games missed versus the division, the team is just 1-4. But with the ankle injury being about 18 months ago, the belief is he’ll get back to the dual-threat guy he once was.
But with A LOT more caution.