Dak Prescott is once again ready to literally put his best foot forward for the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t just what he was doing in the air, but also on the ground, because even though it wasn’t a 100-meter race day or anything close to it, his first decisions to take off and to run long runs and throw the defense into a state of confusion as that was not the version of Prescott many teams have seen in 2021. As he and the Dallas Cowboys gear up for a decisive clash on Sunday against Arizona Cardinals double Pro Bower has a message.
For much of the season, whether it’s the psychology of returning a late-season ankle fracture suffered in 2020 and / or his battle with calf strain in the middle of the season. 2021 season, Prescott has been extremely hesitant to throw the ball. Don’t count on that for the future and the playoffs, however.
If there is green grass in front of him, he goes to the races.
“If there is an opportunity to race, it’s obviously the end of the season, before the playoffs – everything counts,” he said on Monday. “I play like this. I prepare myself like this.”
It’s music to the ears of those who have long questioned Prescott’s reluctance this season to take the yards in front of him when a game breaks down and / or there’s no one to air the ball. . He often chose to stay behind the line of scrimmage and hope for the best downfield.
Because even though Prescott’s game will never be confused with that of Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray, his mobility is still something that must be considered by opposing defenses, as was the case at Mississippi State and during the first four seasons and more with the Cowboys – until he suffered the aforementioned ankle injury. The only way to really digest the before and after is to take a closer look at the numbers, so let’s do that, okay?
We will do it.
In his first 60 starts for the Cowboys, Prescott racked up 1,314 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns, averaging six rushing touchdowns per season in his first three years at Dallas. In contrast, Prescott has just 126 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in 14 games in 2021. Additionally, Prescott averaged 24.75 first downs on Year 1 through Year 4 runs before. to score eight more first tries in the first and just five games of the 2020 season. Since his return, he has only run six first tries from September to December, and that number could be much higher – the strip tells us.
Finally and even sharper are his yards per rushing attempt, a number that has been nearly halved: Prescott has gone from 5.16 rushing yards averaged per attempt before 2021 to just 2.9 gained on average per attempt this season.
Translation: He was not the same player on the field.
“This time he took off [against WFT in Week 16]I was like, ‘Damn that boy moving,’ ”said two-time NFL champion Ezekiel Elliott. “I haven’t seen him run that fast in a minute. It shows you how good he feels and I mean it’s just a testament to the work he has done in the offseason to get to where he is, and the work he has been doing every week this week. year just to get ready for Sunday. I mean he worked his tail.
“I’m here, see a lot of it. I mean it shows the benefit.”
It is legitimate to wonder if this blocking (whether mental or physical) has contributed to making it harder for the attack to come out of an offensive slowdown, especially when you can draw such a definite line between its aggressiveness on the ground. in week 16 and the offense waking up explosively. So, again, while Prescott is still a prolific pocket passer who can extend the game with his legs to buy time for the big field completion (instead of being a QB first), reminding defenses opponents that they must crash into him when he has the chance to run – something they haven’t done often in 2021 because there was no fear he would run – creates more ‘opportunities for broken covers and minimizes the pitch.
It’s science, really, and not necessarily the kind used to propel rockets.
Needless to say, however, you shouldn’t confuse Prescott’s rekindled will to tear off pieces of yards with his legs with an eagerness to make unnecessary contact. When it comes time to slip or go out of bounds, Prescott takes the escape hatch, and that’s something that will no doubt continue to keep him on the pitch for what has the potential to be a deep playoff run. for the Cowboys – also open another door for offense to pass through.
“If those race tracks are there, but obviously I’m still going to be smart and make the connection and that sort of thing,” Prescott added. “When it’s necessary, when the tracks are there, I’m not going to hesitate.”
This will all come in handy against a Cardinals defense who is one of the best in the league at putting pressure on the passer, also having 39 sacks this season to bring that point home, led by All-Pro convenience store Chandler Jones ( 9.5) and linebacker Markus Golden (9.5). There’s a chance the Cowboys will see the return of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith to help block this attack, but it’s obvious Prescott understands how taking advantage of gaping voices would keep them from jamming their ears as well.
Prescott was unavailable for the 2020 game between the two teams, and it turned out badly for the Dallas Cowboys. This time around he’s ready to shoot in revenge on Kyler Murray and Co., a team that fell apart badly in December but still have the ability to make it tough for any opponent in January.
“Yes it was very difficult [to watch last season] for multiple reasons, “Prescott said.” It was a week after the surgery. I was on my couch with my legs up. Probably on some sh-t med which made it difficult to watch the game too. It made it difficult, just not being a part of it. It made it tough, the way they came out and played in our home stadium, something I think about.
“Yes, delighted to play against this team, to have this game in good health and to be a part of it. “
And yes, you can count this next game as a litmus test for both clubs heading into the playoffs.
“What a big challenge it is to try to evolve and progress from last year’s game against a great opponent, against a playoff opponent like the Arizona Cardinals,” said Prescott. “I’m excited for the game. This team has our respect. We can’t wait to go there and give them the best of ourselves.
“… Yes of course [this game is a measuring stick] – [the Cardinals are] a playoff team. It’s a team that we could see next month or so, you want to make sure we go out and play our best ball. It’s almost no different from a division opponent that you play twice. Of course, we’re not guaranteed to replay them, depending on how the tournament goes, but it can happen that way.
“They’re a talented team, obviously they were a No.1 seed for much of this year, and rightly so, just with the talent, the scheme and the coaches they have. They have our respect. But we’re going to do it. Come out and be the performer and put our best football forward. “
This includes Prescott using his feet when he gets the chance, as it will make the Cowboys even more difficult to tango with during the 2021 playoff dance.