Broadway Utica
HomeSportsMoving past 2021, Cowboys' Dak Prescott welcomes offseason focused on growth, not...

Moving past 2021, Cowboys’ Dak Prescott welcomes offseason focused on growth, not recovery – Dallas Cowboys Blog


FRISCO, Texas — Quarterback Dak Prescott can’t stop thinking about the Dallas Cowboys‘ 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

He entered the postseason believing the Cowboys were ready for a deep run and maybe put to rest the franchise’s 26-season Super Bowl drought. Instead, they were the only home team to lose on the first weekend of the playoffs.

“There’s probably some games, some moments in an athlete’s career that just stick with them forever, and I’m sure that’ll be one of them,” the quarterback said at Ford Center recently.

The disappointment may linger, but the work to renew the optimism he had in January will soon begin.

After the loss to the Niners, Prescott said he would take a little bit of time away to reboot. He passed on playing in the Pro Bowl after a long period of constant rehab due to the dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle in 2020, the right latissimus strain he suffered in training camp and the right calf injury he suffered in October.

A year ago at this time, Prescott was just getting out of a cast after a second surgery on his right ankle. He was in a walking boot and a month or so away from signing the richest deal in Cowboys history: four years, $160 million, including a $65 million signing bonus.

If 2021 was about Prescott’s return to health, 2022 will be about his ability to carry the Cowboys back to a Super Bowl with a roster that may look a lot different than the one that finished 12-5 and won the NFC East.

“Dak has the skill to make that happen,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas after the season ended.

History, however, is not on the side of Prescott, who’s entering his seventh season as the Cowboys’ starter in 2022.

Since 1980, only three quarterbacks have made it to their first Super Bowl with their original team after a longer run as the every-game starter than Prescott has had as the Cowboys’ starter. Ken Anderson was in his 10th season with Cincinnati Bengals when they made Super Bowl XVI. Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan were in their ninth seasons as the starters for the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons in their first runs to Super Bowls XLI and LI, respectively.

Prescott is coming off a season in which he set a franchise record for touchdown passes (37). He completed a career-best 68.8% of his passes. He threw for 4,449 yards in 16 starts, the second-best total of his career. He directed the No. 1 offense in terms of yardage and points.

Yet it wasn’t good enough to get the Cowboys past the first weekend of the playoffs.

It was almost as if Prescott had two seasons inside one season: the first six games before suffering a calf injury and his last 10 after the calf injury.

Before getting hurt on the overtime touchdown pass to receiver CeeDee Lamb to beat the New England Patriots in Week 6, Prescott was an MVP candidate, throwing for 1,813 yards with 16 touchdown passes to four interceptions while completing 73.1% of his passes.

After the injury, he threw for 2,636 yards with 21 touchdown passes and six interceptions and completed 66% of his passes. Those numbers are still good but not at the level Prescott showed in the first games of the 2020 season before his ankle injury and the first six games of the 2021 season.

“I went through a period in the time right there in the season and just didn’t play my best ball, and people tried to say it was the calf,” Prescott said on “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast. “The calf got better. I did everything that I needed to do for it to heal.”

Something happened, be it the ineffectiveness of the running game in part because of the partially torn posterior cruciate ligament Ezekiel Elliott suffered in October, the refusal to give running back Tony Pollard more looks, the inconsistencies on the offensive line or the unavailability of key receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup or Lamb because of COVID-19 or injuries.

At times, Prescott’s footwork seemed out of whack, although coach Mike McCarthy called that a “blanket statement.”

“I don’t think it’s, you know, ‘My god, we’ve got to fix that,’ No, that’s not the case,” McCarthy said. “I think just like anything if he was standing here he’ll tell you there’s some throws or some things we maybe need more reps at or more timing. And I think with the challenge of having multiple perimeter options [out], getting in tune with every guy on every particular route, working through the route tree, we definitely need to continue working on the details of that. So I think it all will be a part of moving forward.”

One other thing changed after Prescott’s calf injury on Oct. 17. His personal quarterback coach, 3DQB’s John Beck, took a job as an assistant with the New York Jets on Nov. 2 to help tutor Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

Prescott said he was still getting feedback from Adam Dedeaux, Beck’s partner.

“The in-season is not that important, I guess you can say, as much as the offseason is,” Prescott said during the season. “But yeah, I look forward to getting back to him [when] the offseason happens.”

Prescott credits Beck and 3DQB as part of the foundation to his success. While his pregame warm-up became a viral sensation, the details of the program helped further Prescott’s game. Last offseason, however, they could not do everything they wanted because of Prescott’s recovery from the ankle injury.

“Everything had to involve rehab,” said Beck, who will not return to the Jets. “Like in the beginning there were days that we couldn’t have him on his feet going through a normal work day. We had to do things that took him off his feet and be strategic on how we’d work some rotational abilities, his balance, his mechanics without requiring too much from his leg and ankle too soon.”

Considering the detail involved in the position of the shoulder relative to the hips and the torque required to make certain throws, there was only so much they could do.

“Dak by nature is a pusher,” Beck said. “He’s going to push the envelope. He’s going to try to come back sooner, ‘Hey, I’m feeling good. Let’s go.’ But you’ve got to be smart with it.”

Most of the power comes from Prescott’s right leg, although not every throw requires the same amount of strength. A lot of the work Prescott goes through is to simulate game situations so the unnatural can become natural.

“Dak is wired that way to have great feet and be as clean as possible,” Beck said.

The goal last offseason was to get Prescott back to where he was before the injury. Now the goal is to make him better than he has ever been, “even if it’s by just one percent,” Beck said.

The workouts bounce between the Dallas area, including Prescott’s backyard turf field, and California. The time on field varies. Sometimes teammates will be on hand with Prescott putting together trips to build a better rapport on and off the field.

“I know he’s excited to have an offseason that feels like his normal offseason,” Beck said.

Beck is right.

“Just having a full offseason to be able to go through my training and not worry about getting my leg healthy, all my quarterback drills and everything that I do in a normal, healthy offseason,” Prescott said.

In addition to his health at this time a year ago, Prescott’s contractual future was in question. Would the Cowboys place the franchise tag on him again? Could they justify such a big contract coming off such a severe injury?

Those questions were answered by March when he signed a deal that averaged $40 million per season, topped only by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes ($45 million) and subsequently topped by Buffalo’s Josh Allen ($43 million).

While not perfect, Prescott answered questions about his ability to return from the injury during the course of the season.

Now Prescott, who turns 29 in July, needs to answer another question: Can he take the Cowboys to a Super Bowl?

“I’m a worker. That’s all I know,” Prescott said from the AT&T podium after the loss to the Niners. “I’ll take maybe a week or so to get away I guess you could say, clear my mind. But that’s kind of hard for me, especially after a season like this, having a chance, having the people that we have, I think this is a season that will probably stick with me and motivate me throughout the rest of my career, not just this offseason. I’ll be back at it pretty quick.

“I’m looking forward to getting better, becoming a better player, and doing whatever I can to help the team to get back to this position, but more importantly win.”


Source link

Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staff
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

Most Popular