(At long last, the NFL season is in sight. After a long offseason, the Cowboys are set to depart for training camp on July 24. During this final month before they begin practice in Oxnard, Calif., the staff of DallasCowboys.com is going to preview the 20 biggest questions facing the Cowboys heading into 2018.)
FRISCO, Texas – Coming off a season in which the Cowboys failed the make the playoffs, the pressure is looming for everyone as they get ready to start training camp this week.
The two people who always have records associated with them are the quarterback and head coach.
That being said, just which one of the two enters camp with more pressure on them. Is it the quarterback looking to score a huge payday and establish himself as on the NFL's best, or is it the head coach in his eighth full season trying to get the team back into the playoffs again?
2) More Pressure This Season on Dak or Garrett?
David Helman: You can make the case for either, but I think it's got to be Dak. If Jason Garrett doesn't guide this team to the playoffs in 2018, it's a good bet he's out of a job. But at the end of the day, he's already made a lot of money coaching the Cowboys – and he could assuredly find another coaching job quickly. If Prescott struggles this year, it just might make the difference for the rest of his career. If he's good in Year 3 and the Cowboys win, he's likely going to earn himself a big-time contract extension and a long-term future as the face of this franchise. If he struggles and the Cowboys lose, this team might be looking for a quarterback in next year's draft, and Prescott's days on the roster might be numbered. That sounds dramatic, but it's a sobering reminder of the nature of the NFL. Heading into his third year, Dak Prescott literally has everything to gain and everything to lose.
Bryan Broaddus: No question - - Jason Garrett. When Jerry Jones hired him full time in 2011, he spoke of growing with Garrett as a head coach. He's been through plenty of highs and lows but to his credit, Jones has been more than patient with Garrett during his eight years at the helm. One playoff win in three trips would have meant a coaching change - - but not Jones. Most fans would call him stubborn but I'd call him fair. Garrett comes from a football family so he's well aware of the pitfalls that coaches deal with but this year is a little different for him. There is pressure on him to have a successful season otherwise there is a chance that he becomes a footnote in the team's media guide.
Nick Eatman: I think it's Garrett, without a doubt. I understand this is a big year for Dak as well, but his situation can a bit more complicated. If you look at the top five quarterbacks by average salary, three of them have a losing record as a starter in Cousins, Stafford and Carr, and Garoppolo has just seven starts. My point is that Dak can play well and this team might not have ultimate success. But with Garrett, the Cowboys as a whole have to make the playoffs and probably win a game or two in the postseason. It doesn't matter what happens at quarterback or what the circumstances are, it seems pretty clear what needs to happen for Garrett. Dak on the other hand, could probably show signs that he's ready for that big payday, even if the Cowboys didn't win big.
Rob Phillips: I always say the head coach has the most pressure of anyone on the football team, no matter the circumstances. He's ultimately responsible for the roster and the final result on the field. This is a different roster, a much younger roster, than a year or two ago. And yet, for Garrett, it's no secret that the goal around here is always the playoffs and competing for championships. Certainly Prescott has the challenge of adapting to a revamped group of wide receivers and tight ends. But the entire program is Garrett's. He understands expectations, criticism, all that, is part of the job.
Mickey Spagnola: Pressure is relative. There always is pressure on the quarterback and head coach, the only two guys on the team associated with a record. You know, Dak is 22-10 and Jason is 67-53. Quick, what's Travis Frederick's record? Or that of Tyrone Crawford? So yeah, pressure. I just don't believe either is facing an or-else season, unless the Cowboys like check in at 5-11. To me, the Cowboys have invested too much time developing Dak at the NFL's most difficult position to think about delivering ultimatums. Remember, over the first 24 starts to his career, Dak put together a 102.4 QB rating and a 18-8 W-L record. Pretty darn good. The second half of last season did not totally rest on his shoulders. As for Garrett, the Cowboys have put together three winning seasons in the past four, the first time since 2007-10. And are we going to blame Garrett for the 2015 season when Tony Romo played in only four games, finishing just two and winning three? Produce a winning record this year and that's three consecutive winning seasons, a first since 2007-09. Remember, this is a young team. Real young. Just thinks it's awfully premature to put either their feet to the fire.
Lindsay Draper: I've toiled over this questions for weeks now (literally) because I think it insinuates an air of negativity. And instead of answering it in the context of an emotional tone, I'm going to look at it logically, and pretend that I ask both Jason Garrett and Dak Prescott this question to their faces: I believe the head coach would look me in the eye and say, I take full responsibility for the success of this team, and this quarterback.' I truly believe that, which is why I'll put it in writing with my name on it. Jason Garrett embraces, claims, absorbs – whatever you want to call it – all the pressure for success this season.