Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is admittedly not having his best season.
He is the 26th-ranked passer in the league and leads the 29th-ranked pass offense heading into Sunday’s game in Washington.
He has passed for more than 200 yards in only two games this season and has struggled with accuracy.
In short, Prescott has looked nothing like the sure thing he appeared to be when he replaced Tony Romo in 2016 and fashioned the finest season of any rookie quarterback in NFL history.
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Add it all up and it’s has some extremely frustrated Cowboys fans either pining away for the departed Romo or wondering if the Cowboys should address the position in the draft.
The more sensible ones are questioning if the Cowboys need to, at least, wait another year or so before signing off on a big contract extension for Prescott.
Jerry Jones, though? Well, he has seen all he needs to see and has already determined that Prescott is the team’s franchise quarterback of the present and the future.
“He’s long-term,” Jones told USA Today Sports while in New York this week for the NFL owners meetings. “Anything we need to see and need to know, I see with him.
“We know the problem with saying that about any player, but I don’t mind saying it. I said it about (Troy) Aikman. I said it about Tony (Romo). When you get one of those top ones, you can basically be that definitive.”
Jones then doubled down on his feelings when asked why he was so sure on Prescott on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan on Friday.
“Well, because I’ve seen him do the things that give you long-term promise for a quarterback,” Jones said. “He is extraordinarily diligent in his preparation. He carries preparation as good as anybody I’ve ever seen from the classroom to the practice field, and then from the practice field to the game. And, so, that’s a huge ingredient. He needs to be able to frankly outwork everybody, and he does. He does have all the tools. He’s got the arm. He’s got the size.
“He does have passing instincts that have, of course, if you were going to complain or critique, you have to look at what we’ve done passing. But I know where we are trying to go with him and the receiver corps. That really, I guess, should have been the subject or the (USA Today) article more than anything else. Do you think Dak is going to be the key element in the passing attack in the future? And, yes, I do.”
Jones said the Cowboys’ struggles passing this year have not diminished Prescott in his eyes. He says his ability to handle and overcome adversity is a testament to his character and leadership.
“As a matter of fact, increased it,” Jones said. “Because these are the kind of times you look for. You don’t want to have them, just to see if he passes a test or not. But how he comes back and plays is an indicator.”
Prescott has produced the fewest passing yards (1,144), ranks 31st in yards per attempt (6.69), and 26th for completion rate (62 percent).
Jones blames some of the passing struggles on a lesser offensive line due to the absence of center Travis Frederick and a revamped receiver corps that is still trying to develop chemistry with Prescott following the retirement of tight end Jason Witten and the release of receiver Dez Bryant in the off-season.
All four of Prescott’s interceptions have been tipped off the hands of his receivers.
Jones said it’s more about them not helping him than about Prescott not being able to get the ball where it needs to be, despite criticism from Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman on Prescott’s accuracy and anticipation.
“I take offense with any serious, projected criticism about his accuracy,” Jones said. “He can get the ball within the circumference of where receivers can catch it. They need to help.”
More importantly, Jones sees Prescott as an asset who can make a difference between winning and losing because of the extra dimension he brings with his legs.
To that end, Jones said Prescott is mischaracterized as a bus driver.
“He’s not a bus driver,” Jones said. “He’s a weapon. And as mobility diminishes (on a given play), then you’ll pick up where he is with that great decision-making, with the mind he’s got.”
Right now, Prescott is the best bargain in the NFL. As a former fourth-round pick, his base salary is $630,000 in 2018, which ranks 66th among quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Cowboys can sign him to a long-term contract extension in the off-season with a potential average annual salary of $27 million to put him in line with the other top quarterbacks.
Only then will Jones’ ringing endorsement matter.