Even though most of the attention and coverage in Thursday night’s NFL season opener focused on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, there was just as much intrigue and interest in the return of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Dallas’ season swooned last year after Prescott’s debilitating ankle injury, and their hopes for a competitive campaign rested on how well he could orchestrate the offense.
Even though they came up just short of winning, Dallas has to be encouraged by the performance Prescott had against Tampa Bay.
He showed incredible resolve and clutch ability leading his team down the field for what could have been a fourth quarter game-winning drive.
We’ll assess his performance as a whole and come up with a grade for his Week 1 showing.
First play for @dak?
🎯 to @AmariCooper9!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 10, 2021
Bouncing Back From The Ankle Injury
Whenever a quarterback suffers a serious injury to a lower extremity, all eyes are glued to whether he appears to go out of his way to protect it the following season.
That was on full display on Thursday night, and there didn’t seem to be any reticence to move around the pocket.
Prescott showed solid elusiveness in the face of increased Tampa Bay defensive pressure in the second half, and looked just fine on designed rollouts.
He even kept the ball on an RPO type play in the red zone in the third quarter to gain a few yards.
Putting Shoulder Concerns To Bed
Prescott had a very unique type of injury to his shoulder/armpit area, which traditionally affects major league baseball pitchers.
As outlined by Michele Tafoya on the NBC broadcast, the Cowboys consulted the Texas Rangers medical staff for this ailment, who advised that Prescott should be shut down from throwing during the course of training camp.
As a result, the team held him out of all preseason action, and had one singular goal of ensuring that the injury was not exacerbated in August.
Judging by his performance on Thursday night, that decision to play things conservatively was the correct one.
Prescott aired it out 50 times against Tampa Bay, and looked just as good throwing in the fourth quarter as he did during the start of the game.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 10, 2021
There were other factors that unfolded during the season opener that made Prescott’s performance more commendable.
Dallas’ ground game was virtually non-existent, as Ezekiel Elliott couldn’t get it going with just 33 yards rushing.
The Buccaneers front seven is one of the most stout in the league, so this doesn’t come as a surprise; but it’s still interesting that Dallas’ game plan involved as much passing as it did considering Prescott’s offseason.
Additionally, wide receiver Michael Gallup departed in the second half with an ankle injury.
Dallas’ receiving corps is deep enough to withstand an injury, but it still left Prescott without one of his weapons.
There weren’t many negatives to take away from Dak’s performance on Thursday night.
He went toe to toe with the greatest quarterback of all time, and did not appear to be physically limited.
Prescott did throw one interception, but it could’ve been caught by CeeDee Lamb, so it shouldn’t count against him too much.
He gets an A for his proficient display in his first game action since last October.