FRISCO, TX — It's become crystal-clear who the leader is in the tight ends room for the Dallas Cowboys, at least for those who weren't sold in the offseason that Jake Ferguson would step up and become an impact talent in the post-Dalton Schultz era.
The second-year talent has now registered career-high outings in consecutive weeks and, at one point into the battle with the Philadelphia Eagles, he and Dak Prescott were on a heater that began in the games prior — having connected on 19 consecutive passes.
"I think we're making the right strides," Ferguson said. "We're definitely taking the right steps. There's a lot more work to be done and a lot more things to happen [though]."
Through the first eight games of the 2023 season, Ferguson has been targeted 43 times, catching 74.4 percent of them (32 receptions) for a total of 328 yards and three touchdowns.
He's averaging 10.3 yards per reception and has 174 yards after the carry thus far, proving he's as dangerous before the catch as he is once he reels in the throw. Additionally, Prescott is averaging four yards fewer per attempt whenever Ferguson isn't on the field, per Next Gen Stats, his completion percentage also dropping from 74.2 percent to 58.2 percent — just added proof there's something in the sauce of this QB-TE combo.
Troy Aikman had Jay Novacek. Tony Romo had Jason Witten.
It makes you wonder if the same potential might be cooking in Dallas between Prescott and Ferguson.
That said, as impressive as his numbers have been, he understands they could be better, if not for a few drops here and there.
"The two balls that I dropped, I think they were definitely catchable and that's something I focused on after the game," he said. "He asked about [those] and I said, 'No, no, I love it. Keep throwing that ball. I've just gotta come down with it and not shy away from the hit.
"But I think we're taking the right strides, for sure."
It's a chemistry that's been established in spades with Prescott, and it feels as if Ferguson is just getting started. For just as there is improvement to be made in the few drops he has suffered, the same is true for the instances when he's open for a big play but wasn't targeted.
As proven, it'll all get better with time, though.
"I've been a little bit more vocal this year," said the former fourth-round pick. "Last year, I was trying to get my feet under me at the beginning of the season and, towards the end, just put my head down and work. This year, I can really make an impact and do some big things on offense.
"I've just gotta be there every single time, so when Dak says, 'I'm throwing it to Ferg', he has ultimate confidence that I'm coming down with it."