Whether you love him, hate him, or fall somewhere in between, Dak Prescott is the Cowboys franchise quarterback. Given the position he plays or the team he plays for, there will always be differing opinions about how he is doing his job. Due to all of the things that have already transpired this offseason, and what we know heading into 2022, Dak Prescott will have more pressure to push the offense forward. Let’s take a quick journey back in time to see what Dallas’ young QB has already had to overcome in his young career, and then what his prospects look like in 2022.
From fourth-rounder to Superstar (2016-2017)
Dak Prescott’s rookie season in 2016 played out as if it was made for Hollywood. After Tony Romo sustained a back injury in preseason and Kellen Moore a broken leg not long after, Prescott suddenly went from a third-string developmental QB to the starter of America’s Team. Fortunately for him, minus his fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott, he was surrounded by veterans in their prime.
In years one and two, Prescott couldn’t asked for better weapons in the passing game or a better offensive line in front of him. In Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley he had impressive threats at WR, and at tight end, he had a consistent security blanket in Jason Witten. Because of that, a measly fourth-round draft pick pretty much turned into a superstar overnight.
(‘16-’17 stats: 6,991 passing yards, 45 touchdowns, 17 interceptions)
Out with the old, in with the new (2018-2019)
Things changed in a big way, not only for Dak Prescott, in 2018, but for the Dallas Cowboys offense as well. Dallas moved on from Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams, Jason Witten unexpectedly retired, leaving Cole Beasley as pretty much the only holdover from Prescott’s first two years in the league. So what did they do? They drafted Michael Gallup and eventually traded for Amari Cooper.
Prescott had two new WRs in the passing game but wasn’t given a lot of time to build a rapport/bond with his two newest weapons. Gallup was there throughout the offseason work after getting drafted, but Cooper was added after the season was underway. After losing his top three targets in the passing game, and having to try to get his new weapons up to speed as quickly as possible, Dak was put in a difficult position to succeed. But he led the Cowboys to a 10-6 record in his third season in the NFL.
In 2019, things changed for Prescott once again by addition by subtraction. Jason Witten decided to give it another go coming out of retirement, but Dallas moved on from Cole Beasley, replacing him with Randall Cobb. Dak once again had to adjust to the new weapons around him and responded by leading the Cowboys to just a .500 (8-8) season. That ended the Jason Garrett era in Dallas and brought on even more significant change for the Cowboys signal caller.
(‘18-’19 stats: 8,787 passing yards, 52 touchdowns, 19 interceptions)
Injury bug bites hard, then nibbles (2020-2021)
If welcoming in pretty much an entirely new coaching staff led by head coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t enough in 2020, the season-ending ankle injury Dak Prescott sustained in Week 5 was any players worst nightmare, especially a starting QBs. Prescott not only had to have multiple surgeries on his injured ankle, but had to work his way back from said injury, hopefully returning to the player he once was. Not only was he successful, but he accomplished all of that with the looming contract extension hanging over his head.
With a new contract, and a surgically repaired ankle, Dak and the Cowboys exploded out of the gates offensively in 2021. He was on a record-setting pace in nearly all categories before the injury bug bit again, leaving him with a strained calf. He was never quite the same after that injury, and the shoulder injury we now know he played through, but still, he got the Cowboys into the playoffs and gave them a chance to be serious Super Bowl contenders. But it all came crashing down in the playoffs versus the San Francisco 49ers.
(‘20-’21 stats: 6,305 passing yards, 46 touchdowns, 14 interceptions)
What’s in store for Dak Prescott in 2022?
Believe it or not, but there seems to be a trend for the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott over the last six years. It looks as if every two years or so they go through some significant change to the roster offensively. And as you may have come to expect, it’s really looking as if 2022 could be much of the same.
It’s hard to imagine Prescott can be better in 2022 without Amari Cooper and more than likely missing Michael Gallup for several weeks while he still recovers from his season-ending ACL injury from last year. Because of all that, he will be asked to do more with less, which puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders to succeed this year.
If we’re looking at the big picture, it kind of looks like Prescott is in a tough spot heading into 2022. With Amari Cooper now gone, CeeDee Lamb will be transitioning into the No. 1 WR role, James Washington, a free agent addition, will compete with rookie Jalen Tolbert for the No. 2 job, leaving only Dalton Schultz as the only known aspect from the Cowboys passing game last year. On top of that, the Dallas offensive line is also in flux.
Neither Dak, nor the Cowboys, know right now how Tyler Smith will perform when replacing Connor Williams at left guard. They also don’t know how Terence Steele will respond as a full-time starter at right tackle or how many games Tyron Smith will be available for this season. That’s not even mentioning the questionable depth at each position on the OL right now. There’s just so much unknown right now and it doesn’t bode well for No. 4.
This looks like one of the worst positions the Dallas Cowboys have put Dak Prescott in since he took over as a starting QB in 2016. How things play out for them offensively is the ultimate mystery right now. But because of that, if he does end up having pretty much the same kind of success as before, it will show that he has matured into an elite quarterback who can work with whatever weapons he is provided.