Icon Sportswire / Contributor

Don't tell Dak Prescott the Dallas Cowboys are taking a step back in 2022. The Cowboys lost a few key players this offseason from the league's top-ranked offense as the NFC East appears to be catching up to them. 

Of course, the NFC East hasn't had a repeat champion since 2004. Perhaps all these factors are reasons to be skeptical on the Cowboys this year, yet Prescott -- the engine that makes the offense go -- is taking a different approach. 

"Very, very optimistic," Prescott said on Peter King's podcast this week. "Because of the team we had last year and because of what we went through, the way that we've handled it moving forward, I think we're in a better position this year than we were last year. And I know some guys have gone and some guys have left and went to other teams, but that's the nature of this business."

The Cowboys won the NFC East convincingly at 12-5, yet fell in the NFC Wild Card round despite having the league's top-ranked scoring offense. Dallas also led the NFL in total yards and ranked in the top-10 in six significant passing and rushing categories. 

The offense went through some significant changes, starting with the trade of wide receiver Amari Cooper and the departures of offensive linemen La'el Collins and Connor McGovern in free agency. There's also the decline of Ezekiel Elliott, who has seen his rushing yards per game drop each season since he's entered the league. 

Dallas still has Prescott, who is still one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Coming back from a gruesome ankle injury in 2021, Prescott completed a career-high 410 passes on 596 attempts for 4,449 yards (fourth in team history) and a franchise-record 37 touchdowns. He threw just 10 interceptions and was tied for third in the NFL with a 104.2 rating (trailing only Aaron Rodgers and Joe Burrow). He tallied a 100.0-plus passer rating in 10 games played and was the seventh quarterback in NFL history with eight games of a 100-plus passer rating and three passing touchdowns in a season. 

Even with the Philadelphia Eagles lurking with a talented roster, Prescott believes the Cowboys have the pieces in place to go deeper in the playoffs this year. 

"What we have built here, the core, the leaders, mixed with a great group of young guys who are hungry to make names for themselves and get in this league running," Prescott said. "I feel very, very confident about where we are and excited about where we are and am just ready to keep building and get this thing rolling."