This is not a knock and I hate bringing up the term. However, Prescott in year two should have been viewed (and expected by fans) to be a manager. Consider where he was drafted, his physical skill set, football intelligence, and adjusting to pro ball. Not many in his position blow up the league and then follow that up with an even better second season.
Emergence of a True Field Leader
I believe midway in year three will be crucial for him. Why?
I have zero data to back it up, it’s just sheer thought (conjecture). The reasons below make me believe Dak can go from just being a leader of the team, but it’s field general.
1. The League Adjusted
Teams likely adjusted to the Dallas attack after having a year’s worth of tape on the Dak-Zeke led Cowboys. The game that was alarming was Denver. I go back to the comments of a rookie coach in Vance who said something to the effect of, "It’s not difficult to game plan against Dallas, but they are really good at what they do". Plus, Dak continued to look widely inaccurate after having some shaky throws to start the season against NYG. The offensive problems early could also be attributed to a lack of cohesion and continuity amongst the OL group.
2. Still Learning the Nuances
Dak likely hasn’t had all of the playbook opened up to him yet. He did seem to try to air it out more early on, even upping his targets to Dez. Perhaps doing those things weren’t the wisest options. Call it pressing, forcing, trying to step up his play, or whatever you want to call it, "it" didn’t seem to align to what Dak does best (even tracking him back to MSST). Hit the open guy, take what’s given, be creative with your legs, be smart with the ball... basically, manage and use your athletic ability to extend drives. Also, throw it away. Tuck it away. Don’t overextend.
3. Dak Adjusts
Dak now gets an entire offseason to dissect how teams game-planned him. Dallas should have plenty of data on hand to help him study his weaknesses and how teams exploited them. He’ll be a gym rat and film junky. He should gather the boys for workouts. In his first offseason, we heard all the talk about him adding muscle and working on his arm strength. I’m sure his hard work included the mental part of the game as well. However, look for this second offseason to mostly about the cerebral approach.
4. The Slow Down
Year 3 will see a more seasoned Dak. The calm, confidence, and ease that comes when you’re that much more knowledable and experienced cannot be understated. The game really does "slow down". If you’ve ever played sports or held a job, no matter the level, you can understand and appreciate how true this statement is. Now, apply that to the most important and difficult position in sports, quarterback.
5. Playing Chess While Others Are Playing Checkers
Because of points 1-4, plus the talent of the offense (health considered), I see not just a return of Dak the rookie, but a more improved leader during the first half of the season. Does that mean 14 TDs, 1 interception, and 8 wins "improved"? No. I’m talking about command, seeing what the defense is doing, getting into the right plays, and even being a step ahead of DCs in the chess match that occurs each play.
I’m not a Dak homer. I loathed the pick at the time. I ate crow. I wanted Tony to return after injury (leave it in the past). I am not making excuses for him. He and the team simply didn’t get the job done. I saw a kid who made some bad throws and poor decisions. His inaccuracy worries me. But just like I didn’t go bonkers over the success of his first year, I’m surely not giving up on him after the struggles of a sophomore year which saw some bizarre things unfold for the franchise. I’ll save my alarms or trumpet sounding, whichever it may be, until the end of year 3.