Dallas Cowboys

How do you improve on perfection? Cowboys QB Dak Prescott will try vs. the Redskins

‘He was confident, he was calm, but that’s Dak. Always has been.’ Travis Frederick on Dak’s Day

Dallas Cowboys captain and center Travis Frederick said Dak Prescott was as calm and confident as he's ever been during Sunday's 35-17 win over the New York Giants.
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Dallas Cowboys captain and center Travis Frederick said Dak Prescott was as calm and confident as he's ever been during Sunday's 35-17 win over the New York Giants.

The most important question asked of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott this week is how can he improve on last week’s perfect outing when he faces the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Well, it’s the second most important question behind the contract extension that owner Jerry Jones described as “imminent” in the aftermath of throwing for 405 yards, four touchdowns and posting a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 in the 35-17 victory against the New York Giants.

The deal is still not done and Prescott is not worrying about it.

“I had my time when I talked about the contract,” Prescott said. “I am focused on the Redskins. After that I will be focused on the next opponent. As I said, I have a great team, great agents that are handling that. My focus is all only this team. It will get done in due time.”

So what does imminent mean to you?

“You tell me; ask him, I didn’t say it,” Prescott said of Jones.

Prescott said he is not even going to try to improve on his perfect performance in the season opener.

His focus is on building off that effort and doing whatever is necessary to beat the Redskins and move the Cowboys to a perfect 2-0 on the season.

“You move forward. Simple as that,” Prescott said. “You move forward. You get back to what you know. Get back to … the work is in the dirt as they say. Just getting back to practice, doing all the things you’ve done and finding a way to get better form that.

“You can’t sit back and hang your hat on something like that or hang your hat on one game. It was a good performance for us to go out and do that in the passing game, obviously win that game the way that we did, but it’s about turning the page. Definitely say myself and this team has done that.”

Prescott’s approach is no surprise to coach Jason Garrett.

“That’s the biggest thing we try to emphasize is just to move on,” Garrett said. “You get focused on the next challenge and Dak is really, really good at that. He’s been good at that throughout his career.”

It’s Prescott’s ability to continue to evolve and work to get better that has Jones ready make him the richest player in franchise history whenever the deal gets done. His rise from a 2016 fourth-round pick and developmental project to franchise quarterback a coup for the Cowboys.

“Anybody that says they saw Dak doing this coming out of college doesn’t have their memory on right” Jones said. “He has evolved. He’s doing things out there right now that is rewarding to everybody involved. That’s a progression. He’s evolved.”

And he will continue to. Just because the numbers were perfect in terms of passer rating against the Giants doesn’t mean he had a perfect performance in his mind. Prescott won’t even call it a career-best day even though the gaudy numbers count it as one of the best in NFL history.

He and Tony Romo are the only Cowboys quarterbacks with 400 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Prescott is the fifth quarterback in NFL history to open a season with 400 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

His 405 yards were the most for a Cowboys quarterback in a season opener. Prescott became the first quarterback in team history to have a perfect 158.3 passer rating and only the 30th quarterback in NFL history to accomplish that.

“Definitely wasn’t a perfect day,” Prescott said. “I don’t ever honestly even look at the rating. There’s a lot of other things I guess I could say I look at. Timing, was I in the right spot, were my eyes in the right spot, what’s the anticipation, things of that matter that a rating doesn’t justify, so yeah.

“I definitely just look at decisions. More so decisions than any results, whether it’s yards, rating or any statistic. It’s about just being in the right spot, knowing where I want to be mentally.”

What is not up for debate is Prescott having fun playing football and running the Cowboys’ tricked-out offense under new coordinator Kellen Moore.

It features more pre-snap motions and bunch sets with him under center or in the shotgun commanding the pace and tempo like a point guard.

The Cowboys proved against the Giants they can go fast or slow, with Prescott connecting with a variety of weapons. Not only did he complete passes to seven receivers and throw touchdown passes to four different players, but he also had seven passes of at least 20 yards or more to five receivers.

“It’s fun,” Prescott said. “You dictate the pace, you dictate the tempo, and Kellen and this offense, what it allows us to do is exactly that, is to go fast when we want but we can also go fast and just be bluffing and nothing is called and slow it down, go at our own pace.

“We can huddle up and get in a rhythm while huddling up and going fast and also slowing it down. It just allows you to stay on top of the defense, to dictate what they do, have them on their heels. As long as we’re able to communicate and do some of those things, then we’ll always be able to push the tempo.”

Moore was certainly pleased with Prescott’s performance and how he “aggressively took what the defense gave him.”

“He was decisive,” Moore said. “He was convicted in what he was doing. He was in charge of it. He took shots when they gave it to us and when they didn’t, he checked it down.”

The trip to Washington brings Prescott and the Cowboys to the watershed moment of a year ago.

A loss to the Redskins had them at 3-4 on the season with a putrid passing attack. Prescott passed for less than 200 yards in four of the seven games and averaged 202 yards.

It prompted a bye-week trade with the Oakland Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper that provided immediate results as the team won seven of their last nine games to win the NFC East while averaging 282 passing yards per game.

The Cowboys’ offense is even better and more explosive on the return trip to Washington with Cooper back for a full season, the emergence of Michael Gallup in his second year and the addition of Randall Cobb, not to mention Moore’s play-calling in place of the fired Scott Linehan.

But it’s also been about a more confident and comfortable Prescott having fun and taking steps toward the perfection he showed against the Giants.

“It’s not just him (Cooper), it’s a lot of things,” Prescott said when asked about the difference in the offense. “It’s the way the plays are being called, it’s the way that I’ve been able to see things as I talked about in the latter part of the year, as I’ve said over and over that’s when things started to be more clear, I guess you can say.

“That allows me to go out there and play comfortable, play fast, be confident in the decisions I’m making. What that does is opens up the yards, we’re able to push the ball down the field, we’re able to make throws underneath.

“When you have guys like Amari and guys like Gallup, you see Zeke (Elliott) out of the backfield, they can go get a lot of yards after the catch so it’s fun to get those guys the ball to do that.”

Encore. Encore. Encore.

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