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How Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Must Improve Before the Playoffs

With the Dallas Cowboys on the brink of another postseason appearance, there are a few ways in which quarterback Dak Prescott must improve to ensure success for his team.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has led his team to a playoff berth for the third time in his career, but he has to make some improvements to have a chance at making it to the Super Bowl.

Prescott, a former Mississippi State star, started the season as a potential MVP candidate. He racked up 1,813 passing yards and 16 touchdowns in his first six games of the season and posted an average completion percentage of 73.6 percent. However, Prescott has not looked the same since suffering a lower leg injury in his team's overtime victory against the New England Patriots on Oct. 17.

In his return to the field against the Denver Broncos roughly three weeks after his injury, Prescott had arguably his worst game of the season. He looked shaky, out of control and posted an unimpressive stat line-- 19-of-39 passing for 232 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. It didn't help that his success came when the game was already out of reach for the Cowboys, and the team ended up losing 30-16. 

In the eight games since that fateful Nov. 7 showdown, Prescott has performed much better overall. His team once again clinched a playoff berth by winning the NFC East division. Prescott's past two games against the Washington Football Team and the Arizona Cardinals have been his best over that span. He threw for four touchdowns in only the first half against Washington-- the most by a Cowboys quarterback in any first half in history. 

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Despite looking more like himself as of late, Prescott still has quite a few things he needs to work on to lead his team to postseason success. Every quarterback misses some passes, but when he has missed, it has often been close to catastrophic. Lately, Prescott has come close to throwing some nasty interceptions and has only been saved by the defenders being unable to hold onto the football. Some of his tosses have also been weak or flat, leading to blocks or tipped balls by the opposing team's defensive linemen. Prescott won't be so lucky playing against some of the best teams in the nation, and those passes could truly hurt the Cowboys. 

Prescott's rushing attack has also been far less explosive than it once was. It's hard to blame him: he suffered two leg injuries, one of which was gruesome, a year apart. It makes sense that Prescott would be apprehensive to run and might stick to being a true passing quarterback. However, the Prescott that fans once knew could rush for far more than 146 yards and one touchdown through 15 games. If Prescott feels confident and steady enough to run like he used to, then that will help the Cowboys much more. 

Lastly, Prescott isn't getting the ball down the field like he was earlier in the season. Aside from the team's 56-14 blowout win over Washington two weeks ago, Prescott has averaged less than six yards per throw over the past four games. Earlier in the season, he was finding receivers farther downfield with ease, but he hasn't been able to find those connections lately. Sure, short passes haven't hurt him too much, but it would be great if Prescott was still making those bigger plays. However, this doesn't fall strictly on the quarterback-- his receivers have to create space and get open. 

Prescott and the Cowboys have one more regular-season game to get ready for the playoffs. They will face the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night to gain some momentum and possibly a higher seed heading into the postseason. The Cowboys will take the field during the NFC wild-card round the weekend of Jan. 15, with the official time, date and opponent still undecided.