We can talk about the offensive line that’s supposed to be one of the best the NFL has to offer again.
And we can talk about whether Ezekiel Elliott can get 2,000 yards and life without a No.1 receiver. We can even talk about a defense that should be much improved even if the Cowboys don’t ultimately acquire safety Earl Thomas from Seattle.
But don’t, even for a millisecond, think this season isn’t all about Dak Prescott.
His improvement. His development. His pending contract extension because he’s eligible for a deal that can pay him more than $20 million at the end of this season.
If Prescott has a terrific season — the Cowboys insist he will — then Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett will have their quarterback of the future.
If not, the Cowboys have a huge problem.
In his first 24 starts, Prescott passed for 228 yards a game with 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was sacked 35 times in those 24 games.
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Only once was he sacked more than three times.
In the last eight games of last season, Prescott passed for 188 yards a game with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He was sacked 22 times in those eight games, including three games with at least four sacks.
Jones has zero doubt Prescott can excel. He will gush endlessly about the third-year quarterback’s intangibles, but he also wants you to know Prescott has the skill set to be a champion.
He’s talking about the ability to run the offense and, yes, throw the deep ball.
“If the receivers are right,” Jerry said, “then Dak will really be right.”
So the Cowboys have done all they can do to make the offense “Dak Friendly”.
Now, the Cowboys, including Prescott, protest way too much when you refer to offense that way.
One of the reasons they got rid of Dez Bryant is because the Cowboys believe Dak is better when he doesn’t feel like he needs to throw the ball to Bryant every time he gets man-to-man coverage.
The numbers, for what it’s worth, support their theory.
Prescott is 14-2 with 24 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 104.5 passer rating, when he targets eight or more receivers in a game. He’s 8-8 with 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 86.1 passer rating, when he targets seven or fewer receivers in a game.
The issue, of course, is the Cowboys’ receiving corps is one of the league’s least respected. Allen Hurns is the only member of the group with a 1,000-yard season to his name.
Jason Witten retired and the four tight ends on the club’s roster have combined for nine receptions.
This unit had Witten and Bryant last year and scored fewer than 20 points in five of their last eight games.
That includes an embarrassing three-game stretch where the Cowboys failed to score more than nine points in three consecutive games.
In a lot of ways, not much is expected from this offense for good reason.
“I like where we are headed,” Prescott said. “I like the way we finished OTAs and minicamp. I like our attitude as a team, our hunger, the youthfulness, the energy. You can see guys excited to get back, and that’s what’s good. The last day of an OTA or minicamp, guys weren’t sprinting out the door.
“That was exciting to see and knowing that guys want to get back together in this off time to not only just hang out but to work and get better at ball. That’s exactly what we need in a young team.”
The Cowboys have the NFL’s youngest team. Sean Lee is the only position player in his 30s.
No other team has fewer than three.
But the expectations remain high because of the ridiculously-high standard set by the teams from the 70s and 90s.
“It’s hard to (surprise) people with the Dallas Cowboys; our standards are high," Prescott said. "But when you hear the talk: We don’t have this player and we don’t have that player.
“We don’t have a lot of well-known guys, but that only makes the guys we have hungrier.”
Prescott is about to find out if that’s enough.