DALLAS — Quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper are excited about the Dallas Cowboys' chances in 2019.
The Cowboys went 10-6 and won the NFC East last season, and Cooper was the missing piece as Dallas traded for him during their Week 8 bye week and won 8 of their remaining 11 games. Having to learn on the fly and develop cohesion on the run, Prescott and Cooper connected for 53 times for 725 yards and six touchdowns.
Imagine what the bond that could form if both of them had a full offseason together.
"My expectations are high," Prescott said Sunday at his eponymous ProCmap at Northwest High School in Justin. "Knowing necessarily what I can do, what this team can do, and it's just been about work. Simply just working to get better in every aspect of my game. Making sure my teammates are doing the same thing."
Prescott completed 356 passes on 526 attempts for 3,885 yards, 22 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in his third season. The former 2016 fourth-round pick also rushed 75 times for 305 yards and six touchdowns, which added another dimension to his game of being a threat to pick up chunks of yardage with his legs when it may not be downfield.
With the calendar being late June and all 32 teams having completed their offseason programs, winning the Super Bowl is a goal for each team, and seems to be a reasonable proposition for most. For Cooper, having Dallas finish its season in Miami is the main objective.
"Obviously the goal of every team right now is to be the last team standing to win that last game in February, and that's what we're building towards," Cooper said Monday at Gatorade's "Beat the Heat" program at Hockaday School. "I think we have a lot of pieces in place to do that. Just going to be about our approach to doing it, the work we put in in camp, the work the guys are putting in now."
Even though the conclusion of minicamp and the start of training camp marks the final doldrums of the offseason, Cooper believes it is a significant period for the team to stay cohesive through personal improvement.
Said Cooper: "As a professionals, when we're not — it's not really a part of our regimen right now in terms of us having to do anything. But it's important time. So, I think if we do the right things as a collective, we can definitely go really far."
If the Cowboys were to "go far," they would have to go further than any other team in club history since 1995, the last time they won the Super Bowl, which was also the last year they qualified for the NFC championship game.
Of course, stacking consecutive seasons with playoff appearances has also been a hurdle over the last 15 seasons as 2006-07 was the last time the Cowboys had back-to-back playoff seasons. Prescott, Cooper, and the rest of the team will have to pick up where their franchise forebears left off.
The changes the Cowboys made along the coaching staff with elevating former quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator and having former NFL journeyman quarterback Jon Kitna take Moore's old role as QB coach provides a sense of optimism.
Will Moore activate elements of the Cowboys offense that were stagnant or misfiring under Scott Linehan? Will Kitna help Prescott with his fundamentals and help form more meaningful connections with Cooper and the rest of the receiving corps?
"We're excited for the position we're in," Prescott said.
Do you see Prescott and Cooper improving in their first full year together? Share your thoughts on the QB/WR tandem with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.