Does Dak Prescott need a strong running game to be successful?

Does Dak Prescott need a strong running game to be successful?

Does Dak Prescott need a strong running game to be successful?

Can Dak Prescott Succeed Without a Strong Running Game?

By Ben Grimaldi on 2024-07-06 08:55:42

Longtime NFL producer and NFL Matchup veteran Greg Cosell offered up an interesting take recently on Dak Prescott, suggesting the Cowboys' signal caller is only effective when he has a complete offense around him.

Cosell believes the rushing attack currently led by running back Ezekiel Elliott won't be good enough to get the most out of Prescott. Here's the full breakdown of what Cosell had to say about Prescott as he relates to Dallas' offense:

There's no shortage of social media opinions circulating in the offseason.

Cosell is one of the best in the world at breaking down film, and he's extremely well respected. This isn't someone trying to find his way into the business by offering up hot takes or claiming to be an expert. Cosell is as legit as it gets.

However while Prescott benefitted from a strong running game early in his career, that isn't necessarily the case as he's become a veteran in the league. Last year, which was perhaps the best of Prescott's career, he had little help in the backfield. Tony Pollard did rush for over 1,000 yards but he wasn't the efficient RB that he had been in his previous seasons when he was part of a joint rushing attack with Elliott. He was coming back from a serious leg injury and did get better as the year went on, but Pollard also rushed for a career-low 4.0 yards a carry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Prescott led the NFL in touchdown passes with 36, had the highest QB rating of his career, threw for the second highest number of yards, and was intercepted just nine times. Those stats were accrued with the Cowboys struggling to find a consistent running game.

The offense was third in the league in passing, but just 14th in rushing ypg at 112.9. It was the only time in Prescott's career, except for the season where he fractured his ankle in 2020 and only played in five games, where the running game wasn't ranked in the top 10.

It also should be noted that as Elliott's statistics have been declining, as with Pollard's numbers last year, Prescott continues to produce more in the passing game. Three of Prescott's best seasons have come in the last five years, and only once during that time have the Cowboys had a top-five rushing attack.

As the years have gone on in his career, Prescott looks to be getting better as a QB and passer, which has coincided with the declining running game, refuting some of what Cosell says.

However, the well-regarded analyst makes a fair point about the offense possibly struggling without a strong running game. Throughout the history of the league, one usually accompanies the other for offensive success. Looking at last season as a barometer, the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers all had top five rushing attacks. Those accounted for three of the final four in the league and included two of the top five MVP candidates, including the winner in Lamar Jackson.

In most cases in the NFL, it's tough to find a successful offense that doesn't have the passing and running games complimenting each other, that isn't for Prescott. Yet the Cowboys keep putting more responsibility on their QB. The last few years have shown the team depending more and more on Prescott, expecting him to come through in key moments, and Prescott continues to deliver. Prescott was the best QB in the league on third downs last season.

That wasn't just a one-off season from Prescott either, he came through during the 2022 season as well.

Prescott's last two seasons have demonstrated his ability to carry an offense and that he doesn't necessarily need a running game to be effective. Having a good rushing attack would absolutely help Prescott and the Cowboys' case to win games, especially in the playoffs, but that's true for almost every QB in the league. The goal is always to have both parts of the offense complimenting each other. That doesn't always happen, and the Cowboys are lucky enough to have a QB who can play well despite the lack of a running game.

Cosell's premise that Elliott isn't good enough to give the Cowboys a legitimate running game should be well received. However, the idea that Prescott's success depends on a good rushing attack doesn't hold much validity anymore. Times have changed for the Cowboys and their MVP-candidate QB.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

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