With the offseason practices – both OTAs and minicamps – all done for the Cowboys this offseason, there is a lengthy break between now and the start of training camp, which begins July 24 in Oxnard.
But that doesn't mean there aren't questions on the table at each position. Each day, we will take a deep dive into each spot on the field, analyzing the top battles, the key players and some bold predictions. Today, we continue with the quarterbacks.
What Needs to Go Right: Well, Dak Prescott of course. Sure, by beefing up the defense and adding more weapons to the receiving corps, the Cowboys are doing all they can to make sure their star quarterback doesn't have to carry the full load on his shoulders this season. Still, as head coach Mike McCarthy once said, "Defense wins championships, but the Super Bowl is won by the quarterback." In other words, as Prescott goes, so too go the Cowboys.
The Question: Not much guesswork here, either. Can Prescott return to his previous form or are we headed for another unsettling adventure in 2023? Yes, he was the victim of some drops and questionable route-running at times. Yes, his pass catchers ranked among the NFL's worst in creating separation. Nobody wants to hear it. What matters now is can he lessen the mistakes and, more importantly, win?
Battle to Watch: Although Cooper Rush is the frontrunner for the backup quarterback position after an impressive performance filling in for Prescott last season, nobody is going to just hand him the job, especially Will Grier. Where Rush provides consistency, Grier perhaps brings lightning in a bottle. Could that sort of enticing dynamic outweigh the tried and true?
Bold Prediction: Here's thinking that Prescott can right the ship and finish among the NFL's top five in passer rating this upcoming 2023 season. With a new play-caller, the overall passing yards might drop, but if he's got a healthy offensive line, a running game that contributes and a receiving corps who can make plays after the catch, Prescott can undoubtedly lead the Cowboys on a playoff run.
Biggest Challenge: There will be demons to exorcise when the Cowboys travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, a recent nemesis who has knocked them out of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. And they'll be facing a defense that was ranked second against the run and then this offseason added one of the best defensive tackles around in Javon Hargrave. Which may mean that to prove they are among the NFL's best, Dallas, and obviously Prescott, will have to win this one through the air.
Stat: 19 – Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman totaled 21 and 20 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, respectively, during their Hall of Fame careers. Staubach did so in 131 games with Aikman reaching his mark in 165. But through his first 97 contests, Prescott has already led the Cowboys on 19 such drives, ranking fourth in franchise record books. Tony Romo leads the way with 29 in 156 outings.
- Battle Lines Series
- Guard/Center: Still Open Competition at Left Guard
- Wide Receivers: After Top WRs, Who is Next Up?
- Cornerbacks: Huge Offseason Upgrades to CB Position
- Offensive Tackles: How Tyron Smith Affects OT Spot
- Defensive Ends: Explosive Wars Coming at the EDGE
- Running Backs: RB Room Has a Great Problem in ‘23
- Linebackers: Where Overshown Fits With LB Group