FRISCO, Texas -- On the list of concerns for the Dallas Cowboys as they prepare for their season opener on Sept. 10 against the New York Giants, Dak Prescott ranks about 8,432 on the list, if the list even goes that long.
Actually, the Cowboys apparently have no worries about Prescott as he starts his second season as their starting quarterback.
In six drives in two preseason games, Prescott completed 18 of 22 passes for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns.
His lone incompletion against the Indianapolis Colts came on a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. His three incompletions against the Raiders came on a deep ball to Dez Bryant, a throwaway while under pressure and a low pass to Ronnie Hillman in the flat.
When you are counting the number of incompletions, not the completions, then you know it was a good preseason, even if it was six drives.
“He’s had a great preseason,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “I think he’s had a great camp. I think he’s had a great offseason just from the get go. We talked about it at the onset back in the spring and right after the season that we pick up where we left off, but there’s a lot of things we need to improve on. And he’s worked on those things, and I think we’ve seen a lot of evidence of that this preseason.”
The footwork is cleaner. The command at the line of scrimmage is stronger. The decision-making is so precise that in hurry-up situations in practice he purposely threw wide of his target, knowing once Ezekiel Elliott would not have been able to get out of bounds, which would have seen precious seconds run off the clock.
Linehan was glad to see Prescott overthrow Bryant on the deep ball against the Raiders so they can have something else to think about.
“That guy, he can flat throw it,” Linehan said. “That’s one of those things where he threw it exactly like you want to throw it and nine out of 10 times we hook up on that. It was close. But it’s good to have that kind of work and now we can transfer those things from the preseason because we’re going to want to do more of that [stretching the field].”
A year ago at this time, Linehan was confident in Prescott, who was taking over for Tony Romo, but he didn’t know what he knows now. Prescott was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He led the Cowboys to 13 wins. He had 23 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. He ran for six scores.
But in the season-opening loss against the Giants, he completed 25 of 45 passes for 227 yards and did not have a touchdown or an interception. The chance at a comeback ended when Terrance Williams did not get out of bounds in the final few seconds.
This year, Linehan knows all that he needs to know about Prescott. Their advanced relationship allows the Cowboys to prepare better.
If Jason Garrett follows form with the practice schedule between now and the opener, then the Cowboys will have seven more practices. Maybe eight.
The Cowboys will practice Monday and Tuesday before Thursday’s preseason finale against the Texans. After a long weekend, they will return to practice Sept. 4 and start their preparation in earnest for the Giants.
“I mean, we’re ready to go,” Prescott said after the win over the Raiders.
For 10 years, Jason Witten knew he could count on Romo. Entering just his second season with Prescott, he knows he can count on him the same way.
“He just continues to answer the bell,” Witten said. “His accuracy, decision-making, knowing when to check it down and the smart play that he makes, his communication, I think for a veteran guy to see a young player have success and to come back the next year and have this approach to want to get better, you’re seeing that pay off for him. Young guy, really good leader. He’s a great communicator and just playing the position at a really high level. I think that all gets us excited. Tremendous compliment to him for how he’s approached it. A lot of people when they have success, they don’t do that.
“He’s just a better player than he was a year ago. That’s hard to do because he played really well last year.”