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Mike McCarthy believes Cowboys QB Dak Prescott ‘is having his best offseason program that we’ve had’ together

FRISCO, Texas — The 2024 Dallas Cowboys enter the upcoming season and beyond with just about as much uncertainty as any NFL team in recent memory. 

Coach Mike McCarthy and his entire staff are entering the final year of their contracts as are almost every key contributor in all three phases — offense, defense and special teams. Not to mention the Cowboys are in the process of replacing eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith and Pro Bowl center Tyler Biadasz with a couple of rookies — offensive tackle Tyler Guyton (29th overall pick in 2024 NFL Draft) and interior offensive lineman Cooper Beebe (73rd overall pick in 2024 NFL Draft) and replacing Pro Bowl running back Tony Pollard with Ezekiel Elliott in his second tour of duty in Dallas as well as a litany of other young backs

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2025 offseason

“I think you can throw the contract part to the side,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday at minicamp when asked if he had ever entered a season with as much uncertainty as there is surrounding the Cowboys’ 2024 campaign. “Those conversations, it wasn’t easy. No one wants to be on a one-year contract. We all understand that and the emotion of what that does to your family and so forth. Once we got past the combine, I think once you get things set, there’s a job to do. There hasn’t been any blink.”

“I understand what it looks like, what it may look like from that side understanding the lack of moves that get done,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said Wednesday. “It creates a great conversation.”    

McCarthy highlighted quarterback Prescott’s poised production throughout the Cowboys’ offseason program as an example of his team’s resolve amid an uncertain future. 

“I think Dak is having his best offseason program that we’ve had, and he’s had really good offseason programs the whole time (since McCarthy become Cowboys coach in 2020),” McCarthy said. “This atmosphere we practice in with the receivers and the quarterbacks have really hit the mark. I’m very impressed with the quality of work. … I think the offensive perimeter group and the quarterbacks have really excelled through this offseason program. I think we’ve definitely taken a step.”

Prescott agreed with his coach’s assessment attributing his and the offense’s high quality work partially to having another layer of comfort in McCarthy’s offense with the coach entering his second season doubling as the Cowboys’ offensive play-caller. 

“We’re in a much better place now than we were a year ago at this time,” Prescott said. … “It’s about continuing to make those steps. Second year in Mike’s offense. Last year at this time was the first time you were hearing these things.”

The offense is now graduated out of the 101 class level of McCarthy’s offense after a 2023 in which they led the NFL in scoring offense (29.9 points per game) with Prescott leading the NFL in touchdown passes (36) and Lamb leading the league in catches (135). Prescott isn’t spending as much brain power this offseason on thinking through his footwork on each play, ditto for his receivers in absorbing the play calls and breaking the huddle in a quicker fashion. 

“You’re on the 500 level now,” Prescott said. “You’re talking these plays and particular game situations, down and distances, not just the breaks, the alignments and things like that. We’re getting into the nuts and bolts …  being in Year 2, everything is faster.”

Another factor in the increased offensive comfort is the necessity that the Cowboys achieve a significant level of internal improvement following an offseason in which Dallas saw eight players, including five starters, leave in free agency, tied for the third-most offseason player departures in a single offseason in franchise history. Plus, Prescott and the bulk of the aforementioned crucial Cowboys contributors are playing to earn their next contract in the 2024 season. Dallas’ entire quarterback position room are all set to become free agents next offseason. 

“We all understand the urgencies of us improving,” Prescott said. 

The quarterback attempted to spin the heightened urgency as a positive, something that will certainly be judged next season. 

“It’s just the urgency that you should always have, to be honest,” Prescott said, trying to downplay his lack of an extension. “So maybe guys who normally wouldn’t feel it, feel it.”

Prescott, who said the business regarding his potential contract extension “will take care of itself “ at OTAs two weeks ago, maintained a similar air of calm when discussing his future next deal on Wednesday.

“I don’t mind it. I’ve been in this position before,” Prescott said, alluding to being franchise-tagged twice before signing a four-year, $160 million extension in 2021. “I’m a gambling man. Will gamble on myself and my guys …”

The quarterback paused and swiftly explained his comments about betting on himself.

“Not actually guys,” Prescott said laughing. “I understand there’s been a lot of shit with that. Not that way.”

Up next for Prescott and the Cowboys’ improved cast of playmakers is the annual trip the quarterback takes with his pass-catchers to fine tune their chemistry ahead of training camp. Then, the new father will take some time off his girlfriend Sarah Jane and their daughter MJ before heading out to Oxnard, California, for training camp at the tail end of July. The latter part of Prescott’s schedule during the month-and-a-half long break from minicamp to training camp looks just a little different than it did eight years ago in the quarterback’s rookie season back in 2016, something BFF and backfield mate Ezekiel Elliott noted on Wednesday. 

“He’s just grown all around as a leader, as a person,” Elliott said. “He’s a dad now. We’re growing up. We’re getting old. I’m really proud of Dak, and how far he came. I know he has even more left in him.”

How far Prescott can lead the Cowboys in 2024 will heavily determine how much of the infrastructure of this Cowboys’ run of three consecutive 12-win seasons will remain in 2025 and beyond. 

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Author: Garrett Podell
June 6, 2024 | 9:20 am

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