FRISCO, Texas — To say that quarterback Dak Prescott feels good about his place on the Cowboys would be an understatement.
Heading into his fourth year, it is his place, his team and his locker room more than ever.
And it has little to do with the fact that he and the Cowboys are in deep negotiations on a long-term contract extension that will pay him at least $30 million annually.
That’s simply a byproduct of the work, growth, leadership and production that Prescott has put over the last three years since joining the team as a throw-in fourth-round pick in 2016 that has him feeling comfortable, relaxed and more emboldened than ever.
It is showing on the field as Prescott has been sharp, decisive and accurate during OTA practices, which he credits to a light coming on during last season’s run to the playoffs that has continued to shine in the offseason, almost like a Rubik’s cube opening up for him.
He is no longer thinking; he is seeing and knowing in regards to coverages, progressions and where to go with the football.
“I think last year he was making some really good strides, and he’s continuing to do that,” offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said. “And then just overall command. Being his fourth year and his third full offseason here, in so many ways, he knows it. He’s out there just running the show.”
Speaking of more, what’s also allowing him to be more comfortable and confident is the presence of Moore, his former backup quarterback, as his new offensive coordinator in place of the fired Scott Linehan.
Prescott always had a healthy respect for Moore dating back to when he watched him play in college at Boise State, where he finished as the winningest quarterback in college football history.
That continued when he got to Dallas in 2016 and was initially slotted behind Moore, who was the primary backup to then-starter Tony Romo.
Of course, that was before Moore suffered a broken leg in training camp and Romo suffered a fractured back in the preseason, elevating Prescott to the starting role and him fashioning the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history.
Prescott admits now that Moore was very impressive in practice in how he played and carried himself, “almost knocked his confidence down.”
They have since become fast friends, cemented further during Moore’s time as the team’s quarterbacks coach last season.
Having him now has the offensive coordinator has Prescott on Cloud 9 in terms of comfort, confidence, and a belief in himself and the direction the Cowboys are going on offense.
“Me and Kellen talk often,” Prescott said. “We talk often about things we like, where this offense is going. It’s great. I can say right now, I’m probably as confident and comfortable as I’ve been. Just knowing where this offense is going and knowing the things that he wants to do and his style.”
Prescott is also excited about the changes that Moore is bringing to the offense, not wholesale scheme changes but new wrinkles with alignment, formation, and motion designed to keep the defense off-balanced and the Cowboys unpredictable.
“When you can line up in a formation, and you can motion, and you can do all these things and run 10 plays from that, the defense doesn’t know what to do,” Prescott said. “They’re hesitant. They’re having to play after the snap rather than being a step ahead of you.”
Prescott has also become a stricter, sterner and a better leader.
Leadership was always a quality he has always had and shown, but it was mainly by example with his work ethic and how he carried himself.
Now he won’t hesitate to call someone out if they are slacking.
“I’ve always been vocal,” Prescott said. “I can probably say this year I’ve been more stern. Not necessarily mean, but I expect a lot from these guys, especially guys that have been here. And I want them to expect the same from me. I’d be pissed if they weren’t calling me out for it.
“With some guys, I’ll be like, ‘What are you doing? Are you all right? What the hell is going on? You don’t do that. You’re better than that.’ It’s simple as that. It’s been great. Great response from it.”
Prescott has been great. And the Cowboys would have expected no less.
The money is coming. But his attitude, work ethic, drive and confidence is he who is and who he has always been.
Coach Jason Garrett doesn’t think any of that will be impacted by the ongoing contract talks or generational wealth he is soon to get.
“I don’t. He has been pretty unique in that he has handled every situation I have seen him confronted with since he has got here just incredibly well,” Garrett said. “Whether it’s coming in as a rookie and starting 16 games for us and winning 13. Or the different things that have happened since then — success, adversity week to week, within games over the course of a season, off the field distractions, leadership, connecting with players. Just everything. He had just done an amazing job.
“He has a tremendous wisdom about him, a maturity about him, awareness about him that he is able to handle a lot of situations and always keep what’s most important at the forefront of his mind. His focus is outstanding. His drive. His intensity is outstanding. He wants to be the best. He is as a hard working guy as we have in our organization. He loves it. His way. His leadership is contagious and infectious throughout the team. He has just handles all the situations really well. He is a genuine guy. I can’t imagine those situations negatively affecting him at all.”