For the better part of ten years, the fate of the Dallas Cowboys rested square on the shoulders of playmaking quarterback Tony Romo. But all that changed in 2016 when a couple fluke injuries forever changed the face of this franchise. Entering that season, the Cowboys depth chart at the quarterback position was as follows:
(1) Tony Romo
(2) Kellen Moore
(3) Dak Prescott
But before the season begun, QB’s #1 and #2 had succumb to injury and the team turned the reins over to the rookie Prescott. Fast forward three years later and Romo is one of the top broadcasters on TV, Moore has flown up the coaching ranks to offensive coordinator, and Prescott has since started every single game for Cowboys. In that span, Dak has helped lead his team to two divisional titles and has more game-winning drives than anyone else in the league. Prescott is entering the final year of his rookie contract and it’s just a matter of time before he is compensated handsomely.
The team is sold on Prescott for the future and are currently negotiating for an extension, but reports are the two sides aren’t close yet. With the idea of a rising star quarterback demanding a high price, this cat-and-mouse game could go on for a while. The Cowboys could choose to just stand pat and address this next offseason. That would make the 2019 season a very important one for Dak in terms of what type of money he will command from his second contract. While that would mean Prescott would have to wait for that big chunk of new money, there are a couple factors working in his favor this upcoming season. And as fate would have it, those factors just so happened to have backed up Romo.
The offense is now under the control of the super-smart 29-year-old Kellen Moore, who the organization is hoping helps fix the offense. Moore’s innovative ways stems back to his college days where his 50 wins is still an FBS-record. While his on-field talent didn’t translate into an NFL-starting caliber quarterback, his brilliance at running a complex Boise State offense didn’t go unnoticed. Moore had the intelligence to handle a high-demanding Bronco offense that was filled with many different formations and an extensive amount of plays.
Moore has been a favorite of Cowboys players both as a teammate and as a coach. He’s always well prepared and has a strong understanding of how NFL offenses work. Prescott will tell you that Moore is one of these young genius phenoms in the game and that clearly must be what the front office believes too for them to trust the offense to such an inexperienced coach.
The Cowboys have added a lot of new players to the roster that should aid Prescott tremendously. Prescott went on a tear when Amari Cooper arrived and the two of them will now have a full training camp to work together. Randall Cobb joins the receiving group, and he brings experienced route-running and big play ability to the offense. And the team just drafted the dynamic Tony Pollard. Our own RJ Ochoa provides a great analogy to how the brain trust view Pollard’s potential under Moore’s control.
Drafting Pollard is like when you buy a really specific accessory for your car, something to increase horsepower or stabilize the way it runs. If you aren’t a skilled enough driver you’re really just wasting it, it’s not something the average person would truly utilize.
The Cowboys are hoping Moore is that skilled driver.
But Moore isn’t the only Romo backup that should have a key role in the success of Prescott this season. From 2011-2012, Jon Kitna served as Romo’s backup and now he’s back in Dallas as their new quarterback’s coach.
Kitna now takes over Moore’s old job and brings with him much more experience. Our own David Howman talks about how the new quarterback coach could be one of the team’s most crucial hires this offseason.
One of the biggest weakness for Prescott thus far in his career has been his footwork. At times, Dak gets too jumpy in the pocket because of it and will either be behind on timed throws or just not have enough strength on his passes because his feet aren’t set properly. Kitna talks specifically about the so-called ankle eye, which helps dictate where the ball goes. Often times when Dak throws inaccurate passes, it can be traced back to poor footwork, and it seems as if Kitna will place a heavy emphasis on fixing those issues.
Not only will an improvement with footwork help Prescott make better throws, but Kitna’s influence should help Prescott trust in himself to cut loose a bit. Better accuracy combined with a stronger inclination to make throws down the field could be the secret ingredients in helping Prescott reach stardom. And if that just so happens to occur in a contract year, somebody’s going to be cashing some rather big checks real soon.
The influence of Moore and Kitna could be just what the doctor ordered for Prescott and the Cowboys. And wouldn’t it be something if a couple of former Romo backups helped the team’s young quarterback reach the next level of success and become one of the highest paid players in the NFL.