JJT: Dak Prescott, Not Ezekiel Elliott, is Key to Cowboys’ Offense - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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JJT: Dak Prescott, Not Ezekiel Elliott, is Key to Cowboys’ Offense

Teams will force Prescott beat them - we do not know if he can.

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    Jerry Jones believes Dak Prescott is good enough to win Super Bowls. Did you notice that was plural?

    He is not alone.

    This is an organization head over heels in love with Prescott’s leadership skills and his litany of intangibles like his leadership and charisma. Whatever “It” is that makes some dudes leaders Prescott has been blessed with more than his fair share.

    And all of that is swell, but this season is about his production on the field, not his intangibles. Teams will force Prescott beat them - not Ezekiel Elliott.

    Defenses will start this season with eight- and nine-man fronts that will dare Prescott and his collection of no-name receivers and tight ends to make plays.

    We do not know if he can.

    “This is a huge season for Dak. This is a huge season for us,” Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay said Monday on ESPN’s J Dub City (KESN-FM 103.3).

    “He’s someone who’s built to lead us, but it’s a big year for him because it’s a big year for us.”

    The last time we saw Prescott play quarterback he was in charge of a pathetic offense that failed to score more than 12 points in five of its last eight games. He failed to pass for more than 200 yards in six of those eight games.

    Ridiculous.

    Now, the Cowboys have gotten rid of petulant Dez Bryant, while tight end Jason Witten retired to join the broadcast booth.

    The Cowboys hired receivers coach Sanjay Lal because they want all of their receivers to run similar routes so Prescott does not feel compelled to automatically throw the ball to Bryant every time he gets single coverage.

    They want him to go through his progression of reads and hit the open receiver just like he did at Mississippi State, and just like he did in his first 24 games with the Cowboys when he tossed 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions and averaged 228 yards a game.

    Last season, Prescott directed 219 of his 490 passes - 44.6 percent - to Bryant and Witten.

    Now, the Cowboys want Prescott to deliver the ball to a collection of receivers who have one 1,000-yard season among them in 24 NFL seasons.

    Allen Hurns, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Cowboys in the offseason, caught 64 passes for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. He has 74 receptions for 961 yards and five touchdowns the past two seasons.

    At practice, you can see Prescott frequently talking to receivers after plays, telling them what he saw and what he needs them to do. It is positive dialogue, but also an indication the quarterback and receivers still have much work to do.

    The Cowboys have four tight ends on the roster who have combined for nine NFL receptions. All nine belong to Geoff Swaim.

    Blake Jarwin, promoted from the practice squad at the end of last season, has convinced the coaching staff and front office that he can be a threat running down the middle of the field, but until he does it who knows if he can.

    After nearly two weeks of training camp practices, Prescott has been solid. Fans, for what it is worth, would feel much better if Prescott was a lot better than it has been based on Twitter reaction and Facebook posts.

    The reality is Prescott typically uses practice to practice. Every player does not take that approach. Some players do not want to look bad in front of reporters or fans, so they take a conservative approach to practice.

    Prescott occasionally tries things he would not do in a game to see how they work.

    Coach Jason Garrett and play-caller Scott Linehan do not seem concerned. Neither do the Joneses.

    “It's never as good and never as bad as you think it is when you go back and watch the film,” Prescott said. “I'm hard on myself - super critical of the throws, the placement, where I should've went with the ball.

    “I take my notes and I move forward.”

    In Sunday’s practice, Prescott threw a TD pass on a 20-yard seam route to Swaim in an 11-on-11 team drill. It was his first TD pass in 11-on-11 in several days, but he also threw a pass late in the flat that cornerback Anthony Brown intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

    “That was one of those that in the middle of the throw, you want to throw it away or throw it short," Prescott said of Brown’s interception. "I should've done either one of those.

    “It was just looking that way, getting locked in that way. I've got to find somewhere else to go with that ball or just throw it away.

    “I’ve obviously made some good throws and I’ve made some not-so-good throws. I’ve taken chances here and there but I’m definitely improving.”

    He must.

    The season depends on it.