Dak and the Cowboys: The Death Star of Football

Robert Mays for The Ringer:

The typical refrain from Dak doubters to this point has been that the Cowboys offense hums mostly because of its other pieces: the league’s best offensive line and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott combining to create the most bone crushing ground game in recent memory. We’ve reached a point, though, where it’s impossible to ignore the numbers that Prescott is producing. Through 11 games, he’s 231- of-340 for 2,835 yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions. That puts him on pace for what would inarguably be the best statistical rookie passing season of all time, and outings like Thursday’s are what make that increasingly easier to believe.

There’s no arguing that Dak Prescott is an amazing athlete. Watching him play is mesmerizing. I was at his first professional game agains the Rams in LA during the pre-season. Even though they lost that game, there was no denying, even then, that Dak was something special.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. But at the same time, I’m just happy to have the opportunity to watch this kid play. No matter what uniform he’s wearing.
 Back to Robert:

There are some who might still try to make the argument: Any quarterback would rack up gaudy stats in the Dallas offense. But we already know that’s not true. While the Cowboys didn’t have Elliott a season ago, they had the same five guys up front, mauling front sevens and turning Darren McFadden into a productive NFL running back. With Tony Romo injured and Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Kellen Moore truly putting the “any quarterback” theory to the test, Dallas finished a putrid 31st in offensive DVOA.

What the Cowboys have shown in 2016 is that offenses aren’t simply collections of units with individual values that can be judged regardless of context. Plenty of NFL pundits roasted Dallas on draft day when the franchise spent the no. 4 overall pick on Elliott. The analysts’ reasoning was that a solid if unspectacular back ó such as Alfred Morris ó would still produce behind the Cowboys offensive line. That’s probably fair. So is the idea that Prescott’s numbers are partially inflated because he plays with the Dallas supporting cast. But the reason this offense has turned into the football equivalent of the Death Star is that every facet ó Prescott, Elliott, the line, and the Dez Bryant-led receiving corps’ benefits from the others.