There’s a lot riding on Dak Prescott in the upcoming 2022 season.
Chapter I: The MVP
After trading away his top wide receiving target this offseason for a fifth-round pick (Matt Waletzko), cutting one of his best friends and one of the better right tackles in the NFL in La’el Collins, and already seeing the injury bug steal future Hall of Famer Tyron Smith for what seems like the entire season, the amount of pressure, both figuratively and literally, on Prescott is likely going to be at an all-time high.
Thankfully for the Cowboys, Cowboys fans, and the Cowboys front office, there’s very few players in the NFL that are built to handle the pressure quite like Dak Prescott.
Look up the word adversity and the dictionary, and a picture of Dak Prescott should be posted right beside it. Prescott has dealt with more adversity than most heading into his seventh year as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. 2022 will be a lot of the same as Dak Prescott looks to take the Cowboys to consecutive NFC East titles and clinch another playoff game at AT&T Stadium. If Prescott is able to carry this team into the playoffs, folks should have no issue hearing his name near the top of the list of “MVP” candidates, because the supporting cast on paper has way more questions than answers here to start the regular season.
Chapter II: The Scapegoat
In that same seven-year span, Dak Prescott has been questioned statistically, that he doesn’t win enough (fourth most wins by a QB since 2016), and that he doesn’t elevate the players around him (see Cole Beasley, Randall Cobb, Dalton Schultz, Amari Cooper). For a guy that has done nothing but carry himself the way you’d dream of a franchise quarterback to do so, has played as one of the top 8-12 best quarterbacks in the NFL for most, if not all his career, and has won more games than every quarterback in the NFL since 2016 except for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson, it’s strange to see so many people, especially people that follow and cover the NFL for a living, question #4.
But it’s just not the fans and the media questioning Dak. We’ve seen and heard here recently Jerry and Stephen Jones throw some fire in the ring as well expecting “more” out of their franchise quarterback.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during a salary cap conversation on @1053thefan: “The teams that pay the big ticket on the quarterback have to sacrifice other places.”— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) September 2, 2022
Cowboys want 40m/year Dak Prescott to elevate those around him.
For those that don’t already know, this is not in any way true. Let’s take the Rams for example who just handed Matt Stafford a deal that averages $40 million a year. The same year they gave Stafford that contract, they also signed Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner, re-signed OT Joseph Noteboom, and signed DL Aaron Donald to a mega-extension.
But everyone’s tired of hearing about the Rams. So let’s look at the Raiders, who just gave Derek Carr an extension that pays him on average $40.5 milliona year. After handing that out, the Raiders also added Chandler Jones in free agency, traded for Davante Adams, and re-signed Maxx Crosby to a long-term deal as well. This doesn’t include being in contract talks with TE Darren Waller.
Now some may be looking at this and pointing to the Chiefs getting rid of Tyreek Hill or the Packers getting ride of Davante Adams, but we have to remember that both of those players were offered deals similar to, or exactly the same, as they received on their new teams. Hill wanted out of Kansas City and Adams wanted to play with Carr in Las Vegas, but even then the Chiefs and Packers went out and addressed the positions to help makeup for the losses of two dynamic players — with early-round draft picks and signed free agents with starting NFL experience. The Cowboys decided to draft a smaller-school wide receiver in the third round, re-sign Michael Gallup who is still recovering from ACL surgery, and expected to miss time to start the season, and added James Washington, the Steelers WR3/4, who will now miss most of the season after suffering a foot injury in camp.
Our good buddy David Helman, over at Fox Sports, gave us “The Scapegoat” theory back in August, and it seems more and more like that’s a route the Cowboys front office is willingto take if things don’t go well. The Cowboys can try to make Dak Prescott the scapegoat if things don’t go well in 2022, but that’s all due to their own wrongdoings.
Chapter III: Be Dak
In 2022, my hope is that Dak just goes and does Dak. While the freak injuries have taken a toll on Prescott over the last few seasons, when healthy, there’s very few quarterbacks better. While not talked about enough towards the end of the 2021 season, getting the calf and lower-body back to full strength is the key to the Cowboys success at the quarterback position in 2022.
When Dak trusts and is able to use his legs in and out of the pocket, he’s one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. That was something he wasn’t able to do last season after injuring his calf against the Patriots in week six. After looking healthy as could be all offseason, and getting another year removed from the broken ankle, Dak and his mobility should be back better than ever, and that’s something we haven’t been able to say for two years now.
Even with Cooper and Collins now gone, Smith injured for most of the year, Gallup missing sometime, and plenty of question marks at wide receiver and the offensive line for the Cowboys, this isn’t Dak’s first rodeo dealing with all of those things. While it’s going to be tough to overcome all of these things every week, Prescott and Lamb’s relationship seems to be at an all-time high, Dalton Schultz is primed for a monster year, and the hope is that first-round pick Tyler Smith is ready to takeover as the teams long-term option at left tackle.
Even with all the new faces, all the holes, and all the mismanagement of the roster during the 2022 offseason, there’s one consistent with the Dallas Cowboys, and that’s if Dak Prescott is healthy and on the field wearing the star, the Cowboys have a chance.