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Why QB Dak Prescott believes Dallas Cowboys can win with a so-called lesser roster

Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Football

Considering how the 2023 Dallas Cowboys season ended and what has transpired in the offseason — or rather what has not been done — would you believe that quarterback Dak Prescott not only thinks his team is a better place than it was a year ago, but that they can possibly go farther in playoffs than any team since their last Super Bowl title in 1996?

Never mind that the Cowboys suffered arguably the worst playoff setback in more than 30 years with the unconscionable and seemingly inexplicably 48-32 blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card playoffs, marking a third straight 12-5 season with an early exit and extending their Super Bowl drought to 38 years.

Never mind that owner Jerry Jones promised to go all win in the offseason to finally put in a winner on the field and then punted in free agency.

The Cowboys were the lowest spending NFL team in offseason by $50 million. The Detroit Lions, who reached the NFC title game, spent the most at $626.5 million. The Cowboys came in dead last at $93.4 million, trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 31st at $146.9 million.

Never mind the Cowboys claim of not spending in free agency was due to them prioritizing extensions for Prescott, receiver CeeDee Lamb and edge rusher Micah Parsons.

Not only have those deals not been done, but there he has been minimal negotiating and Lamb boycotted minicamp.

Yet, Prescott, with the start of training camp for the 2024 season a little over a month a way, is a true believer.

He says the Packers loss remains a motivating factor for the entire team while also increasing the sense of urgency for everyone in the organization.

“That should be the start of your offseason,” Prescott said. “That’s got to motivate you individually. As a man, and obviously as a football player, to go and accomplish the offseason you want to have, take the steps necessary that you need in the time before you get back with the team and then when you get back in the team group, everybody feels it. That urgency even increases.

“But at this point, it’s about improving on where we are. We’re in a much better place now than we were a year ago at this time. It’s about continuing to make those steps. But yeah, that (Packers loss) will always be a motivating factor depending on who you are and what you did in that game and how it played it. It will continue. We all understand the urgency of us improving.”

Prescott said the Cowboys are a better place than they were at a year ago because they are in the second of year with coach Mike McCarthy’s offense.

Last season, they were learning and went on to become of the league’s best attacks with Prescott leading the NFL in touchdowns passes and finishing second NFL MVP voting one year after leading the league in interceptions. Lamb also led the league with a team-record 135 receptions and set a team record with 1,749 receiving yards.

Even though Lamb is not around, Prescott is more comfortable with the receivers. They have great communication.

 

McCarthy said the perimeter group with the quarterbacks and receivers have been the best part of the offseason. And they all believe Lamb is on the come.

Still, the Cowboys lost at least six starters in free agency in center Tyler Biadasz, left tackle Tyron Smith, running back Tony Pollard, defensive end Dorance Armstrong, safety Jayron Kearse and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. And that doesn’t include the retirement of Leighton Vander Esch.

They team only signed veteran linebacker Erik Kendricks as a walk-in starter before the NFL Draft and then brought back two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott to top a running back-by-committee one year after releasing him.

As far as proven talent is concerned, this is a lesser team on paper than it was at the of the season.

Prescott knows as much but he remains undeterred in his belief in this team.

“It is just the beginning, first off. And you don’t just win games with just talent,” Prescott said. “And you don’t win games on paper and talent is really not decided on paper. So I understand what it looks like, what it may look like from that side understanding, the lack of moves that gets done. It creates that ... great conversation.

“I’m confident in the men we have.”

Prescott’s excitement is rooted in the best rookie class he’s seen in years, led by first-round pick Tyler Guyton and third-round pick Cooper Beebe, who expected to be opening-day starters at left tackle and center, as well second-year jumps from last year’s class.

“For the last three years, going back to I guess Tyler Smith’s rookie class (in 2022), I was like ‘man, this is the best rookie class I’ve seen’,” Prescott said. “I said it last year. Honestly, I said it again. I’ll say it now and very confidently say that they’re better than last year’s best class and let’s credit each and every one of those guys who have come in with the right mindset and credit to our coaches. I’m confident in what we’ve got, what we can do in the second year in this offense.

“You’ll see some guys that you know maybe just didn’t have the opportunity, whose opportunity is upon us and is gonna make big plays guys.”

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©2024 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit star-telegram.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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