Dallas Cowboys

The secrets to Dak and the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive surge? Take your pick

It’s good to be Dak Prescott right about now.

The fourth-year quarterback is off to the best start of his career, the Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 with the hapless Miami Dolphins coming in for a noon Sunday beatdown at AT&T Stadium, and he’s the Sports Illustrated cover boy for the fifth time.

“It never gets old,” Prescott said after Thursday’s practice at The Star. “Growing up, always looking at the Sports Illustrated. No matter the number of times, it will never get old. It will always be cool.”

Prescott, who hadn’t yet read the story, is not only having his best start, but one of the best starts by any quarterback ever.

He can become only the third QB in history to record at least four consecutive games with three or more touchdown passes and a 120 or better passer rating. The Seahawks’ Russell Wilson did it five consecutive games in 2015 and the Colts’ Andrew Luck did it four times last year. Prescott has done it in three straight, going back to the 2018 regular-season finale against the Giants.

There’s a multitude of reasons for Prescott’s pristine performance so far in 2019 — which includes the top completion percentage in the league at 82.3 and ESPN’s top QB Rating of 96.2.

His performance so far is not just a product of three years of NFL experience, although that’s certainly part of it, Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said.

“He’s getting older. He’s getting more comfortable with everything,” Moore said. “He’s trusting himself. He’s letting it rip. Obviously, the guys around him, I think he feels really comfortable with those guys.”

No offense to Joe Looney, who served a valuable role as an emergency backup at center for the entire 2018 season while Travis Frederick recovered from Guillain-Barré syndrome. But Frederick was and has shown in the first two games he is a still an All-Pro worthy force. He’s one of only three centers with 25 or more pass-block snaps who haven’t surrendered a quarterback pressure. In fact, the Cowboys and 49ers are tied with a league-best one sack allowed.

The safety in the pocket has allowed Prescott more comfort to make reads and throws that in the past he would have rushed whether it was necessary or not.

“Having that time in my head when it comes to me knowing my read and just getting the ball out,” he said. “it’s a credit to those guys protecting and the receivers getting open within that time. We’re not stressing and putting the offensive line in bad situations and creating coverage sacks.”

The lone sack, which came last week in the 31-21 win over the Redskins, was his fault, Prescott said.

“The offensive line is doing an incredible job but it’s the whole offense playing together,” he said.

But the improvement is also a testament to an altered set of throwing mechanics Prescott has been working on the past two seasons, mostly during the off-season with noted quarterback guru and former Texas Rangers’ left-hander Tom House and his 3DQB facility.

“A lot of it is just the work I’ve done in the offseason with the guys that I train with then putting on top of that the footwork, just how demanding [Cowboys’ QB coach Jon Kitna] is and the things he wants and expects of a quarterback. I mean it all comes in together. And then when you’re calling plays that are comfortable for me, it allows all of that to tie in together. Allows me to go out there and play free and rip the ball.”

That, of course, adds to the mix Moore’s influence on Prescott. The first-year OC is just three years removed competing with Prescott for the backup role behind Tony Romo.

“There’s a little bit of everything I think,” Moore said. “Some mechanical stuff, some just trusting it and letting it rip. Being in time, getting comfortable with all those aspects. I think there’s a lot variables to it.”

Prescott, in many ways, sounds like a quarterback that has finally discovered the secret to QB success in the NFL.

“I’d say I’ve probably made it to this point just being an athlete,” he said. “I’ve learned over the last year, year-and-a-half, I guess, of how to use my lower body, how to use everything from the ankle all the way up to the torque of my body, and allowing that to make the ball come out easy, free flowing. It’s definitely paying off.”

Prescott kept going back to Moore’s play-calling as an integral component. And the dynamic sequence of plays for much of the first two games, certainly deserves due credit. But Prescott is the one executing. And executing at a historic clip.

Prescott points to a change in the mechanics of his throwing motion thanks to House’s help. Instead of throwing off his front foot, which was the case more often than not during his first two seasons in the league, he’s planting his back foot and deriving more power and a steadier throwing motion.

“It’s huge. For me to be walking in the huddle and be getting the play called in that’s exactly what you were thinking or expecting in this situation or this down and distance, yeah, it’s makes for a good environment, a healthy environment,” Prescott said. “I’m sure there are some things I implemented that are different, but for the most part it was just work, putting in those hours of breaking old habits and making a new habit when it comes to throwing the ball.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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