The Cowboys did their greatest to get better from shedding quarterback Dak Prescott to a season-ending ankle damage of their Week 5 residence win over the Giants. They have been alive within the NFC East race throughout Sunday’s loss on the Giants in Week 17.

However the backside line is, at 6-10, the Cowboys didn’t win the division or make the playoffs for a second consecutive season and of their first yr underneath coach MIke McCarthy. Do not be fooled by the very fact their report was simply two video games worse than their 8-Eight mark in 2019, when Prescott was absolutely wholesome. In addition to Andy Dalton performed at instances as his fill-in, Dallas’ shortcomings on offense with out Prescott value it an opportunity to take a weak, low-scoring division.

McCARTHY IN WEEK 17: No problem | Recreation mismanagement

The Cowboys went 2-Three with Prescott, 4-5 with Dalton, 0-1 with Ben DiNucci and 0-1 with Garrett Gilbert. They averaged 32.6 factors per sport in Prescott’s begins. That complete plummeted to 20.2 factors per sport with out him.

Dallas’ protection was a serious drawback for a lot of the season. The Cowboys additionally suffered accidents on the offensive line and within the backfield, on high of Dalton needing to overlook video games early in his alternative stint after touchdown on the COVID-19 record.

Prescott had began each sport after being drafted within the fourth spherical in 2016 till his unlucky break not far into his franchise-tagged season. Throughout his absence, there is not any doubt the Cowboys’ coronary heart grew fonder for his excessive degree of play at a very powerful place.

There’s additionally little doubt now that the Cowboys have to re-sign Prescott to a profitable long-term extension. Dalton was one of many higher backups within the league however he could not lower it in Kellen Moore’s system till late, which largely wasted Dallas’ talent place expertise. Dalton could not put all of it along with extensive receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb usually sufficient.

The Cowboys retained Moore earlier than the season — and put him underneath the offensive-minded McCarthy — to maintain him hooked up to Prescott. That is additionally why they gave their 32-year-old offensive coordinator a multiyear extension this week to maintain him from pursuing the pinnacle teaching job at his alma mater, Boise State.

Now that they are eradicated from the playoffs and averted their inevitable destiny towards Tom Brady and the Buccaneers subsequent weekend, the Cowboys can flip their full consideration to determining the perfect deal for Prescott, which can be the perfect deal for them.

Overlook about attempting to switch Prescott with a first-round rookie on a manageable contract or discovering one other later-round gem. After Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields go 1-2 off the board, there’s equal promise and uncertainty with the remainder of the 2021 QB draft class. Overlook additionally about pondering there’s any type of viable free-agent bridge possibility that may enable Dallas to desk QB to the 2022 draft and use cash saved on Prescott to spice up different positions.

NFL DRAFT ORDER: Record of picks after Week 17

The Cowboys know what they’ve when Prescott is working with Moore — a particular chief and passer, athletic and difficult, locked right into a big-play passing assault. Prescott has been higher at this greatest than first-round draft mates Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. The Rams and Eagles would possibly remorse overspending on extensions for them, however that should not make the Cowboys hesitate with Prescott.

Jerry Jones made heavy investments in Cooper and operating again Ezekiel Elliott. He likes to deal with his superstars, and he’s good sufficient to understand, after seeing how restricted these gamers’ manufacturing was with out Prescott, that paying them means little with out additionally conserving Prescott. Lamb within the first spherical was a luxurious decide; the Cowboys knew he would dominate within the slot with Prescott, and that was the case instantly.

The Cowboys’ protection had an terrible season; issues broke down on each degree. Solely Prescott may give his workforce an opportunity to beat that, and extra instances than not, he did. McCarthy, regardless of his time without work from the Packers to turn into a extra forward-thinking coach, made lots of the identical situational errors predecessor Jason Garrett did within the Cowboys’ nearer losses. Dallas must get higher in each areas, and that should occur impartial of conserving Prescott.

The Cowboys weren’t certain of a lot in 2020 and issues shortly bought extra discombobulated when Prescott wasn’t conserving the whole lot the offense collectively and masking the membership’s different points. In the event that they wanted extra conclusive proof of what Prescott means to them earlier than committing to him underneath his phrases, then they’ve gotten it. All indicators level to Prescott being their solely QB plan for subsequent season — and lots of extra to return.