Dak is back.
Mike McCarthy and Co. should breathe a sigh of relief after watching No.4 return to action at the beginning of OTAs. Despite Prescott sitting out 11-on-11 drills to avoid inadvertent contact, the sight of the veteran throwing passes all over the yard should inspire the Cowboys and their coaches to dream big in 2021. The sixth-year pro has joined the ranks of the elite as a passer and playmaker after back-to-back seasons with gaudy production and high efficiency. Most important, Prescott has evolved from game manager to playmaker as a premier QB1 in a quarterback-driven league.
If No.4 is able to fully execute all of the movement that enabled him to test the defense as a passer and runner, the return of the Cowboys' QB1 makes this team a dangerous one to face this fall.
Don't sleep on Ben McAdoo's new role.
The Cowboys' decision to bring in McAdoo as a consultant will not only give Mike McCarthy an extra set of eyes on the offense but he could add some creativity to the game planning process. The former New York Giants' head coach is a crafty schemer with a knack for creating opportunities for star players, particularly wide receivers. During his tenure with the G-Men as a play-caller, he helped Odell Beckham, Jr. take the league by storm with three straight seasons with at least 90 receptions and 1,300-plus receiving yards. In addition, OBJ tallied 35 touchdowns in 43 games despite opponents paying close attention to his whereabouts.
Given the Cowboys' talented WR corps, the Cowboys' new consultant could help McCarthy and Co. devise a few schemes that enable Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb to cook on the outside. Moreover, McAdoo's experience crafting dynamic, quick-rhythm passing games could help Prescott torch defenses with a "dink-and-dunk" approach that produces big numbers with minimal risk.
Jaylon Smith turns back the clock.
The NFL's new jersey number rules enabled Smith to reclaim his famed No.9 from his days as a dominant defender at Notre Dame. Although the number is synonymous with Tony Romo in Cowboys' lore, the decision will be viewed as a positive one if the one-time Pro Bowler can regain his all-star form as a disruptive defender on the second level. Smith's role in Dan Quinn's defense could include a move weak-side linebacker that features more "run-and-hit" opportunities for the veteran defender, particularly on run downs.
With the linebacker taking on a new role that could enable him to reprise his role as a disruptive playmaker, the Cowboys' new No.9 could remind us why he was once viewed as a blue-chip defender in Big D.
The return of Tyron Smith and La'el Collins is a game-changer.
The football world has closely tied the Cowboys' title hopes to the return of Prescott but the team's rise to contender status is really tied to the comebacks of Smith and Collins. The massive bookends missed most of the 2020 season and their absences prevented the offense from maxing out their explosive potential with their franchise quarterback on the field. Although No.4 put up gaudy numbers (371.2 pass yards per game) without consistent protection around him, the beefed-up security should enable him to aggressively attack defenses from a comfortable pocket.
With Smith and Collins also moving defenders off the ball on running plays, Ezekiel Elliott could re-emerge as a contender for a rushing title. If No.22 provides a credible threat as a runner behind a solid offensive line, the Cowboys' offense is good enough to make this team a dark horse contender with or without a dominant defense.
Who is QB2?
The optimism surrounding Prescott's return is tempered by the inexperience of the backups behind him. The loss of Andy Dalton to the Chicago Bears leaves the team with an unproven collection of developmental prospects vying for the No.2 position. Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, and Cooper Rush are set to compete for the role in a * training camp battle but the winner of the competition will be an inexperienced option to lean if Prescott is forced to miss time.
Considering how the offense stumbled with a revolving door of QB2s logging starts in 2020, the team needs to make sure that one of the novices is ready for the role or shop for a veteran option on the open market. Whether it is Brett Hundley due to his familiarity with McCarthy and his offense or journeyman like Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III, or another cast-off, the Cowboys must continue to explore their options to fill the QB2 void.