Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4), quarterback Mike White (3) and quarterback Dalton Sturm (1) run through a line of VIP fans during the afternoon scrimmage at training camp in Oxnard, CA, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018.
Let’s be honest, quarterback Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys’ passing game has been anything but a work of art so far in training camp.
Reasons abound for the struggles, including a lack of chemistry with the revamped receiver corps that has been hamstrung (no pun intended) by a constant rotation at receiver because of injuries and stout play by the Cowboys defense, especially cornerbacks Chido Awuzie, Byron Jones and Anthony Brown, which in itself is something be excited about.
But the numbers in the passing game are what they are and they aren’t pretty.
Prescott has completed 67 of 93 passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions in team and seven on seven so far in training camp.
Two came on Sunday, including a Pick-6 by Brown.
And the three touchdowns all came on Sunday, ending the Amber Alert for passing scores for the first-team offense after none came through the six padded practices.
The three touchdowns on Sunday were to running back Rod Smith in seven on seven and running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Geoff Swaim in team.
It must be noted that there have been none to a receiver outside of unlikely scramble situations where he bought time in seven on seven when there is been no pass rush.
Prescott said the Cowboys still have a long way to go but he is not worried.
“We definitely made some improvement,” Prescott said. ”We are getting better. If we can continue to do that we will get to where we need to be.”
Prescott acknowledged he is still trying to gain chemistry with the receivers, which has been difficult in camp with Deonte Thompson (Achilles), Allen Hurns (groin) and Noah Brown (hamstring) being injured and Terrance Williams being limited as he returns from offseason surgery to repair a sprained foot.
It has resulted in a virtual revolving door at receiver with the first-team offense.
Cole Beasley has been the only constant as rookie Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, Lance Lenoir have all gotten reps with the starters in addition to Thompson and Hurns before their injuries.
“That is what camp is for,” Prescott said. “It’s challenging but it’s not tough. That is what you want. Those guys are going to be rotating in the game. So we have to go ahead and get it in out here while we rotating. We rotate 5 or so guys that will be rotating in a game so I can gain chemistry with all them and figure out who is a guy I can call on in that time.”
With all that being said, coach Jason Garrett has no concerns about Prescott.
“He’s having a really good camp,” Garrett said. “Still knowing the guys, getting to know some of the guys. We’re a little disappointed is Deonte is not out there, Allen Hurns hasn’t been out there consistently. Twill is coming back. You’d like to have that work every day but again that gives other guys opportunities. We’ve seen a lot more of Michael Gallup every day and that’s a really good thing. It’s good they’re getting to know each other better a little bit.”
And then there is the matter of Prescott’s accuracy and decision making, which have not been the sharpest in camp. He has not gotten the ball far enough on deep passes and also not anticipated the throw soon enough in addition to some bad misses.
“I have been okay,” Prescott said. “I have made some good throws and some not so good throws. Taking chances here and there. But definitely improving. It’s never as good and it’s never as bad as you think it is when you go back and watch the film. I’m hard on myself so when I go back, I’m being super critical of myself of the throws, of the placement, of where I should have gone with the ball and when I should have gone there with the ball. I’m tough on myself. I take my notes and I move forward. So when I go back tonight, all of that was OK, it’s got to better and this is why it’s got to better. And I take my notes and I move forward.”
He doesn’t need to do any film work to know he made a poor decision and bad throw that Brown intercepted and returned for a touchdown on Sunday. Prescott was beyond the left hashmark when he threw all the way across the field to Beasley on the right side. Brown jumped it.
“That’s a tough throw,” Prescott said. “Anytime you throw in the league man-to-man coverage that’s a hard throw. In that situation, I’m thinking just checking it down. That was one of those in the middle of the field you want to throw it away or throw it short, I should have done either one of those. Looking that way, locked in on that way, I’ve got to find somewhere to go with the ball, just throw it away.”
Prescott is not worried because of the work he is putting in and the explosive potential of a receiver corps he calls the fastest he’s had in three years.
He said the Cowboys have added some new kinks to the offense that will help the running game and the play action passing game.
And then there is running back Ezekiel Elliott himself.
Not only will the ground game behind Elliott be the foundation of everything the Cowboys do on offense, he will also be a big part of the passing game.
The touchdown pass to Elliott on Saturday was a perfect example. He broke off a long run that got the Cowboys inside the 5-yard line. Prescott followed with a touchdown pass to Elliott on a swing pass.
Clarence E. Hill Jr. :@clarencehilljr