Dallas Cowboys QB and reigning Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott will have a chance to prove early that his phenomenal rookie campaign was a sign of great things to come.
The Cowboys had hoped on Tuesday that second year RB Ezekiel Elliott would be given at least a reduced suspension for domestic violence against former girlfriend Tiffany Thompson. They were instead left exasperated by the news that after the Week 1 tilt against the rival New York Giants on Sunday in Arlington, they will indeed have to survive six games without the defending NFL Rushing Champion.
Given a chance to reduce or rescind Elliott’s suspension altogether, Arbitrator Harold Henderson chose to uphold Commissioner Roger Goodell’s initial ruling, and send Elliott to the bench for the full gambit.
The Cowboys still have what could be considered the most complete offense in the NFL. With names such as Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and an offensive line consisting of three perennial Pro Bowlers, there’s some room for confidence.
They also have veteran depth at RB. Although neither could be considered a game breaker like Elliott, Darren McFadden and two time Pro Bowler Alfred Morris have combined for over 10,000 rushing yards collectively in the NFL. That will provide much needed stability in the running game.
Of course, as we found out in 2015, none of those things matter when there’s no one to properly guide the ship. The Mercedes Benz that was the Cowboys offense quickly became a 1987 Yugo when ran by the likes of Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore.
Prescott showed in his inaugural campaign that he is more than capable of guiding the ship. He led a team that went 4-12 in 2015 to an NFC best 13-3 in 2016. His 67.8% completion rate and his gaudy 23-4 TD to INT ratio was more than just the product of those around him. His incredible maturity for a man of just 24 years old borders on unprecedented. He played within himself, rarely made mistakes, and gave his team a chance to win every game last season.
Further, his play in the excruciatingly painful playoff loss to Green Bay showed that he has the playmaking ability to come back from adversity.
There have been no indications that Prescott will take a step back like Robert Griffin III did after his spectacular rookie season. He’s healthy and was very sharp in the preseason. And he appears to have taken naturally to being a team leader, as he was voted a captain by his teammates in only his second season.
With uncertainty on defense again and the offense missing their most explosive player, the Cowboys will need Prescott to be better than his incredible rookie campaign. He will need to play like an MVP if his team hopes to reach the lofty expectations set after last season.
Here’s hoping he’s up to the task.