Cowboys’ Prescott has new body, faces more pressure in 2022

Town Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

Six months ago this week, Dak Prescott was under pressure. Well, more accurately, he was talking about being under pressure. He loved the pressure, he said. He welcomed it. It brought the best out of him and the Dallas Cowboys. It created the right kind of expectations.

“I do not know why people label the word ‘pressure’ as such a bad thing,” Prescott said.

A few days later the Cowboys were done, outdueled by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC’s wild-card round.

Whether it was the pressure or just the 49ers’ elite defense, Prescott and Dallas were heading into the offseason, extending a gloomy stretch that has seen the franchise win just three playoff games in the past quarter-century.

Now, with much of the summer passed by and thoughts turning to a fresh campaign, he’d better start loving the pressure again, or at least getting comfortable with it. Because there’s plenty coming.

Such is the nature of things as Cowboys quarterback, where expectation and reality do not always neatly align, and where the hunger and desperation for success grow with each barren year.

Prescott’s season was statistically spectacular – with 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions – in a campaign that saw him return from an awful dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle.

Numbers-wise, it’s hard to see how he could have done much more. And yet, when the fireplace debates that fill these non-footballing months turn to which players will carry the weightiest expectations in the coming year, Prescott is usually near the top of any list.

A season like the one he just had – good enough for a 12-5 record – would pass muster virtually anywhere else. But Dallas fans are worn out. They’ve had the seasons of hope that were supposed to lead to more. The positive signs. The platform-laying campaigns. The build-and-learn years. Plus, a bunch of substandard gloom mixed in.

Now it is at the point of win or bust. Win, as in really win. Not as a double-digit win, but as a playoff win.

It’s just been too long. Too much hope invested, and for Jerry Jones, too much money spent. Too many false dawns.

Is it fair for Prescott to shoulder the primary burden of that responsibility? Hardly. But it comes with the territory of being the Cowboys quarterback, and he knows it.

When you’re QB of the Cowboys there is simply nothing about you that people aren’t interested in. It could be your love life. What car are you driving. What your views are on topics that have nothing to do with football. Heck, they’re still interested enough in Tony Romo that his victory in a pro-am golf tournament last weekend garnered plenty of notice.

Right now, for Prescott, the hot topic is his physique. The 28-year-old has gotten leaner over the summer, working out with a full-time trainer that he personally employs.

Dak Prescott in ‘the best shape of his life’

Dak Prescott in 'the best shape of his life'

Dak Prescott is feeling good going into this season. He told reporters he is “in the best shape I’ve ever been in.” The Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback also raved about his recent trip to Miami with teammates ahead of training camp. Skip Bayless ponders how much this offseason will help his quarterback’s performance.

“A couple of weeks out (from training camp) and I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in,” he told reporters. “So, it’s time to ramp it up and get going.

“Whether it’s vacation or not, (my trainer) comes with me. We work on these movements and stretches. I feel like, since the injury, I’ve trained more functional than I ever have. So, I see it in my body , I see it the way I move and how the ball is coming out. “

In theory, Prescott should be set up to perform even stronger this season than last, which was the first stage of a four-year, $ 160 million contract. No longer does he have to go through an extensive pre-workout routine to ensure his ankle is properly supported.

His mobility, with 21 months having passed since sustaining the injury, figures to be greater, enough that head coach Mike McCarthy has already spoken about getting Prescott involved in more running plays.

Prescott is making all the right noises and looks full of optimism – though optimism is a dangerous word in Dallas and should be handled with care.

The oddsmakers are exercising some caution regarding the Cowboys, stationing them as eighth-favorites to win the Super Bowl, at +1800. The skeptics have concerns about the departure of preferred wide receiver Amari Cooper and the overall status of the offensive line.

When Prescott addressed the media there was an air about him. A good one, certainly, but hard to explicitly put your finger on.

A feeling of confidence, no doubt about that. A sense of readiness, impatience perhaps, to get things going?

Prescott says he’s ready for it all, ready to unleash his new physicality, ready for the opportunity, ready to try to make up for the most recent disappointment.

And, presumably, ready for the pressure, which is always there – and until the Cowboys get back to the Super Bowl – always growing.

Might as well learn to love it, because it’s not going away.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Yor can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.


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